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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.

Max is a journalist studying at the University of Pennsylvania. Max specialises in English football and co-hosts a weekly podcast. He is also a politics reporter and deputy news editor for The Daily Pennsylvanian.

Brighton and Hove Albion

Fulham’s sale of David Button to Brighton is a brilliant deal

The back-up goalkeeper was recently offloaded to Brighton.

Max Cohen

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David Button
Photo: Getty Images

On Monday, Fulham announced goalkeeper David Button was leaving Craven Cottage for an undisclosed fee to move to Brighton and Hove Albion.

The offloading of the club’s backup goalkeeper for any fee represents good business, as Button was very clearly second choice and, ultimately, supporters will be surprised that a Premier League club were willing to spend any money on the player.

Button joined the Whites in July 2016 and slotted in as first choice goalkeeper ahead of Marcus Bettinelli. Yet the Englishman lost his starting spot in embarrassing fashion after a horror show performance against Derby County the following April.

Button’s distribution, passing ability, and shot-stopping were abject that midweek night, allowing David Nugent to score some laughably easy goals en route to a harmful 4-2 loss.

After that match, Bettinelli took over and never looked back, leading Fulham on a sparkling end-of-season run to the play-offs that narrowly ended in heartbreak.

However, the following season Button again reclaimed the first choice role after Bettinelli was injured in pre-season. The ex-Brentford man started the season brightly, earning numerous plaudits and man-of-the-match votes during the early stages of the season.

But, his high-profile mistakes came back to haunt him, and after a poor showing against Brentford in December he was again benched for Bettinelli.

Fulham truly never looked back this time. Bettinelli’s arrival coincided with another sparkling run of form, this time one that took the Whites to third position and promotion through the play-offs.

It was clear Bettinelli was preferred to Button, and it made sense to see the elder goalkeeper depart this summer.

The sale of David Button to Premier League rivals Brighton is another intelligent piece of business by Tony Khan and Fulham, getting rid of benchwarmers and raising funds for further transfer targets.

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Fulham

Malcom should consider Fulham move despite Champions League interest

Jake Jackman

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Fulham are set to enter the race to sign Bordeaux winger Malcom and offer competition to Inter Milan according to The Sun. The Serie A team had been leading the race after submitting an initial loan bid with an option to buy next year with the total package totalling £35.3 million.

However, the Cottagers have shown impressive ambition already this summer and could be prepared to buy the Brazilian permanently this summer.

The report goes on to say that Slavisa Jokanovic wants to add another pacy forward to his squad before the start of the season and Malcom is one of the players being looked at.

Bordeaux know that they are in a strong selling position and want at least £45 million for the talented Brazilian forward. He has previously been linked with Tottenham, Arsenal and Bayern Munich, but Fulham have previously shown they can pull off a deal such as this one.

(Photo credit should read MEHDI FEDOUACH/AFP/Getty Images)

The highly-rated Jean Michael Seri joined the newly-promoted club earlier this week and if they managed to sign Malcom, it would represent another coup. Fulham have been out of the Premier League for four seasons, but they don’t plan to make up the numbers now they have returned.

That is why Malcom should consider the club if the reported interest is genuine. Fulham are located in London and will be playing in one of the best leagues in the world. Although he will be looking for a Champions League move, the Cottagers would still represent a step up.

The Brazilian would have the opportunity to play regularly in the Premier League and that would make him a more rounded player, especially in terms of physicality. At the age of 21, he has plenty of years ahead of him. Fulham would provide a good environment in which to develop further before making the jump to the Champions League.

In addition to their location and division, Fulham play an exciting style of football under Jokanovic. They are encouraged to pass the ball and take risks in the final third. Malcom would thrive under such instruction and have a platform to attract concrete interest from bigger clubs.

(Photo credit should read NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP/Getty Images)

Last season, the 21-year-old caught the eye in Ligue 1 and emerged as one of the best players outside of PSG. He scored 12 goals and contributed seven assists, while his ball retention in the final third was impressive. Malcom ended the season with a pass success rate of 82.1%, while he averaged 2.5 key passes and 2.7 dribbles per game.

Fulham will know that there is no harm in selling themselves as a stepping-stone club in the interim period. It is an effective business model if done correctly and allows them to grow organically into a team that can challenge the top six. Given the resources of the Khan family, that seems to be the objective.

After the arrival of Jean Michael Seri, Fulham have sent a message to the rest of Europe that they have ambition and they want to continue progressing as a football club. Agents and players across the continent will have taken note.

Craven Cottage will now be a more attractive destination and reports linking them with players like Malcom shouldn’t be written off. This would be a good move for the Brazilian and if they can agree on a fee, they should be confident of pulling it off.

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Fulham

Fulham’s signing of Jean Michael Seri will be coup of the summer

Jake Jackman

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Photo: Getty Images

Fulham have pulled off one of the shock signings of the summer, as Nice midfielder Jean Michael Seri has joined the club for a record fee. The Guardian report that the fee is in the region of £25 million and that he has signed a four-year contract at Craven Cottage.

Over the past 12 months, the 26-year-old has been linked with Chelsea, Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal to name but three other interested clubs. Meanwhile, he came close to signing for Barcelona last summer.

It is a major coup for Fulham to sign the Ivorian, as they are a recently promoted club who haven’t been in the Premier League since 2014.

However, there is clear ambition among the ownership and this could be the first of several ambitious arrivals, as they attempt to establish themselves as a top division force once more.

Their location and style of play make them an appealing option for players, as shown by Seri’s decision to move to Craven Cottage.

(Photo by Anne-Christine Poujoulat/Getty Images)

Nice have been one of the most exciting teams in watch in Ligue 1 during recent seasons and they have managed to develop a host of exciting players.

Seri is regarded as one of the best to play in red and blue, as he has been at the heart of a team that has played attacking football and qualified for the Champions League. Although they didn’t reach the group stages, it was a huge achievement to get to the play-off round.

The 26-year-old is very much a modern-day central midfielder capable of excelling at a number of roles. He covers a lot of ground for his team and is always looking to improve himself as a player.

 “Jean Michael arrives with Premier League qualities as well as great promise for the future, which is why he has been at the very top of our target list for a long time.”

Tony Khan, on Jean Michael Seri.

Although he is primarily used as a box-to-box midfielder, he can be used in both deeper and more advanced positions. His pass accuracy rarely dips beneath 90% as he is comfortable on the ball in tight spaces. That said, he isn’t conservative in possession as he looks to break down opposition defences.

Last season, he averaged 2.1 key passes and 1.2 dribbles per game, which underline the quality he has in the transition phase. During the last three seasons, he has contributed 12 goals and 20 assists in Ligue 1.

(Photo by Yann Coatsaliou/Getty Images)

There have been few better midfielders during that period and he is now ready to test himself in a better division. He was perhaps less impressive during the 2017/18 campaign, but he may have remained with Nice for one year too many.

This is a marquee signing that sends a signal of intent to the rest of the division. Fulham are not in the Premier League to make up the numbers and they are prepared to spend big to establish themselves as a force. Seri is a player that is good enough to play in the Champions League and he will be the star attraction at Craven Cottage next season.

Slavisa Jokanovic and Tony Khan must now make further additions to provide the team with more quality players. It is worth noting that Fulham came up through the play-offs and one player, regardless of his quality, isn’t enough to transform them into a Premier League team.

The club will realise that and Seri could be the first of many eye-catching signings made this summer.

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