Newly promoted clubs are nowadays expected to make a splash, shelling out cash in a bid to upgrade their squads to Premier League quality.
However, despite these expectations, no one (with the exception of Tony Khan) could have imagined Fulham signing Jean-Michael Seri, the highly-rated central midfielder from Nice.
Fulham’s acquisition of a player who has topped the Ligue 1 rankings for passes played and passes completed for two seasons in a row, and one who Xavi had famously praised, represents the coup of the summer.
This remarkable praise from one of the generation’s best midfielders illustrates how good Seri is. His eye for a pass is second to none, and his goal scoring rate (12 in 103 appearances for Nice) is also laudable.
Fulham desperately needed reinforcements in the centre of midfield, as an upgrade was needed on Stefan Johansen.
Although the Norwegian was crucial to the club’s promotion, at times last season he was frustratingly ineffective and Seri is undoubtedly a more accomplished player to operate in the engine room of the pitch.
“He can play anywhere in the middle. He is fantastic. He has what they call the Barca DNA. No doubt.”
The purchase of Seri is a hugely ambitious move that sends a strong statement of intent to the rest of the top flight. Credit is in store for Tony Khan and the recruitment team, who have bought a player who many expected would depart to clubs of a higher status than Fulham.
Fulham fans had to wait a while for the first signing, but the marquee purchase of one of the best young midfielders in the world was well worth the wait. And just minutes later, Fulham also confirmed the signing of defender Maxime le Merchand from Nice as well, an accomplished centre-back and left-back who will add experience in the backline.
With pass master Jean-Michael Seri alongside Tom Cairney in the Fulham midfield, Premier League defences should be on high alert. Fulham have made their first foray into the transfer market, and they mean business.
Four ins and outs Fulham could complete in the next week
The Cottagers look set for an active end to the transfer window.
As Fulham’s preseason tour of France continues, the squad is preparing to battle some of Europe’s finest clubs.
Yet, there is substantial action going on off the pitch as well, with the Whites being linked with a host of top-quality talents.
Here are a number of possible arrivals and departures that could occur in the coming days.
Aleksandar Mitrovic from Newcastle United
Mitrovic has seemed to be on the brink of completing a £20 million move from St. James’ Park to Craven Cottage for weeks now, but the following days could finally see the Serbian sign for Fulham.
According to the Standard, the Whites are closing in on a deal that makes sense for both parties. Rafa Benitez has no interest in keeping the striker, and Mitrovic loved his time at Fulham and found the form of his career last season.
Fabri from Besiktas
ESPN has reported Besiktas’ Spanish goalkeeper Fabri is the subject of an offer from Fulham, who are looking to strengthen the goalkeeping position after the departure of David Button.
The 30-year-old has enjoyed an excellent two seasons in Turkey, steering Besiktas to the Super Lig championship in 2016/17 and leading them to the Champions League knockout stage the following season.
An experienced goalkeeper with impressive Champions League success, Fabri would be a strong competitor with Marcus Bettinelli for the number one spot.
Wilmar Barrios from Boca Juniors
It would be a spectacular coup to beat some big Premier League clubs to his signature, but Fulham have done just that with Jean-Michael Seri a week ago.
Woodrow once looked set to be the next star striker at Craven Cottage, yet has lost his way in past years and most recently endured a tough loan spell at Bristol City where he scored just two goals.
The 23-year-old Englishman has been conspicuously absent from Fulham’s pre-season friendlies, missing from the starting XI and the bench in the three matches against Crawley Town, Reading, and Fenerbahce.
Although there have been no rumours linking him with an exit, it seems likely he will depart the club this summer as he is not part of Jokanovic’s first team plans.
Fulham’s sale of David Button to Brighton is a brilliant deal
The back-up goalkeeper was recently offloaded to Brighton.
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.
Malcom should consider Fulham move despite Champions League interest
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.
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.
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.