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Fulham

Fulham should repeat Stefan Johansen success by bringing in Stuart Armstrong

The Scottish midfielder is set to leave Celtic this summer.

Mathew Nash

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It looks as though Celtic midfielder Stuart Armstrong could be on his way out of the club this summer. The Scottish Sun recently reported that Armstrong was on his way out of Parkhead this summer, as his contract enters its final year. Crystal Palace and Brighton are both said to be interested in the player, whose first-team place at Celtic was impacted by his contract situation last season and the emergence of Callum McGregor.

Now it seems that Armstrong is on his way out and newly promoted Fulham should be keeping tabs.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

The midfielder finds himself in a remarkably similar position to the one current Fulham star Stefan Johansen found himself in 2016. His contract entering its final year, Celtic decided to cash in rather than lose him for free. That move has certainly paid off. The Norwegian has become a regular at Craven Cottage and helped them win promotion to the Premier League last season.

Armstrong is just as good a, if not a better, option than Johansen and would add some much-needed depth to the Fulham squad ahead of the new season.

His fee would seemingly not be overly expensive and with former team-mate Johansen at the club, settling in will be made slightly easier.

Fulham need to make sure they spend wisely in the transfer market ahead of their return to the Premier League. Johansen proved such a shrewd move two years ago. Armstrong would be similarly sharp.

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Arsenal

Jack Wilshere has hinted at Arsenal exit, West Ham should move now

Jamie Watts

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Jack Wilshere
Photo: Getty Images

After a lengthy saga, it appears Jack Wilshere may have made a decision on his Arsenal future, with the midfielder posting a cryptic message on his Instagram story last night.

The midfielder’s current contract expires at the end of the month, and the likelihood is he will now move on to pastures new, with the likes of West Ham, Everton, Crystal Palace, Newcastle and Premier League new boys Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fulham, said to be interested in his services, according to the Sun.

The 26-year-old was left out of the England squad for the World Cup this summer due to his diminished role with Arsenal, and revealed his “disappointment” on the day through his official Twitter account. And it now appears he will prioritise making himself essential at both club and international level next season, and that is unlikely with Arsenal.

Wilshere took to Instagram last night to share a story that suggests he has made the decision to depart north London this summer. The post read: “There comes a time when you need to choose between turning the page and closing the book.”

Manuel Pellegrini has been tasked with getting West Ham back to playing attacking and progressive football next term, and the addition of Wilshere would go a long way to achieving that.

The Chilean has identified a midfielder as the key to ushering in his new philosophy and is interested in bringing Wilshere to the London Stadium this summer, according to reports from the Daily Star.

Photo: Getty Images

And the time is now to make his move. The Hammers have stalled on talks for the likes of Javier Pastore, Yaya Toure and Mario Lemina in recent weeks and Wilshere would be an excellent alternative, as his technical quality and experience would add plenty to the current side.

Having made 38 appearances in all competitions last season, it also appears that the Englishman has improved his fitness, which has always been his primary weakness.

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Fulham

Fulham’s Marcus Bettinelli deserves his chance in the Premier League

The 26-year-old was key throughout The Cottagers’ promotion run.

Max Cohen

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Marcus Bettinelli
Photo: Getty Images

Following Fulham’s promotion to the Premier League, focus has immediately shifted to the areas of the squad where investment is needed in order for upgrades to top-flight quality.

Yet the goalkeeping position represents one position that does not require an overhaul.

Despite many claims to the contrary, goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli deserves a chance to prove himself in the Premier League.

The 26-year-old brings indispensable key skills to the Fulham squad, possessing excellent shot-stopping skills along with the ability to reinvigorate the team as a whole.

Remarkably, Bettinelli has overseen both of Fulham’s superb runs of form over the past two seasons.

In the 2016/17 campaign, Bettinelli was second-choice for the majority of the season, yet was recalled to first team action after David Button’s horror-show against Derby in April.

After Bettinelli returned to the starting lineup, Fulham were unbeaten and won five out of their last six matches, securing a play-off spot in spectacular fashion.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Following that season’s semi-final defeat at the hands of Reading, Bettinelli suffered an injury in preseason and lost his place to Button yet again.

The Englishman had to wait until December 2017 to return to the starting 11, and immediately won his first game against Birmingham.

It was the start of an incredible run, where Fulham would lose just three matches in the following 29 games. During that superb spell, Bettinelli kept 14 clean sheets and let in just 20 goals.

After losing two matches in a row in May, the Fulham goalkeeper responded admirably and kept two consecutive clean sheets in Fulham’s biggest matches of the season en route to promotion glory.

These stunning runs of form always seem to occur just as Bettinelli returns to the side, and although all of Fulham’s resurgences cannot be attributed to the goalkeeper, his skills are undoubtedly a major factor.

The shot-stopper has an incredible knack for keeping clean sheets, and his fantastic saves have averted disaster for the club on many occasions.

A perfect example of Bettinelli’s value to Fulham came in the Whites’ clash with Leeds United in April.

Leeds looked certain to score when Caleb Ekuban was slipped through in the second half, yet the Fulham ‘keeper made an outstanding one-on-one stop to deny the striker.

(Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Moments later, the Cottagers scored on the counter-attack and secured all three points- without Bettinelli’s intervention, the score would have been all square at 1-1, instead of a 2-0 lead.

Overall, there are more pressing positions at Fulham that need strengthening (such as centre-midfield, right-wing, and right-back); a costly outlay on a new goalkeeper would be superfluous.

As a result of the Camberwell-born goalkeeper’s heroics and value to team morale, Marcus Bettinelli should be given a chance between the sticks in the Premier League.

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Fulham

Why Ryan Fredericks’ transfer to West Ham United is a sideways move at best

Fulham fans will understandably be disappointed at the 25-year-old’s departure.

Max Cohen

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Ryan Fredericks
Photo: Getty Images

Earlier this week, full-back Ryan Fredericks left Fulham following the expiration of his contract and joined fellow London club West Ham United.

Now that the dust has settled on the long-rumoured transfer, it is clear the 25-year-old’s decision was ultimately motivated by a thirst for higher wages and represents a sideways move at best.

After refusing to sign a new contract with Fulham due to a failure to agree wages, according to Football.London, Fredericks moved across the capital for tens of thousands of pounds more a week.

But one question dominated the minds of many Fulham supporters and outside observers:

Why leave Fulham, a club that is undoubtedly on the rise and where Fredericks had found his best form, for the unfamiliar setting of West Ham, a club that narrowly avoided relegation last season and is perhaps the definition of dysfunction?

Sadly, the most convincing answer to the dilemma is a desire to make more money.

Clearly, there is nothing wrong with such a request from a player. Professionals deserve to be rewarded for their work and a pay rise is in order after impressive performances.

(Photo by Ashley Allen/Getty Images)

Yet Fredericks’ demands to become the highest-paid player at Craven Cottage were a step too far. No matter how well a player performs, no individual is bigger than the club.

As Fulham Vice President Tony Khan noted in the comments section of Kevin McDonald’s latest Instagram post, Fredericks should not be harassed for his decision, which Khan claimed ultimately came down to business concerns.

Khan is right; although Cottagers supporters feel disappointed that the defender jumped ship so quickly, there is no tolerance for abuse of Fredericks.

And yet, the Fulham faithful is more than entitled to feel baffled by Fredericks’ decision to leave the Premier League club for the Hammers. West Ham certainly have more resources than Fulham, but perhaps that’s the lone field where Fulham are bested.

The stark contrast in the atmospheres of the two teams is best exemplified by a comparison of pitch invasions.

Fulham fans stormed the Craven Cottage pitch in glee after securing a spot in the play-off final in May; West Ham supporters ran on to the London Stadium pitch and grappled with their own team’s players in ugly protests in March.

This juxtaposition reveals Fredericks’ ultimate mistake, as dysfunction, uncertainty, protests, and crowd troubles are constant features of life at West Ham.

New manager Manuel Pellegrini has never managed at a bottom half of the table English club before, bringing more uncertainty to an already precarious situation in east London.

Unfortunately for Fulham, Ryan Fredericks decided an uptick in salary was worth a move to a hostile and erratic work environment; in the end, his transfer to West Ham is a misguided action.

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