Being one of Fulham's greatest made the sale inevitable

LONDON ENGLAND - JANUARY 30: Moussa Dembele of Fulham evades Luka Modric of Tottenham Hotspur during the FA Cup sponsored by E.ON 4th Round match between Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur at Craven Cottage on January 30 2011 in London England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Yet another replica shirt of mine must be discarded to the lesser-used end of the cupboard, along with Zamora's of 2010 and Bullard's of 2008. Mousa Dembele 2012 is the latest departure and it grates quite substantially more than any other.

Zamora, Bullard, Johnson - they all left under quite straining circumstances, all of which made them easier to take. We've proved ourselves bigger, stronger and more powerful with each marquee sale over the years but, with Dembele, the positivism has yet to surface. Is it because he left Fulham with, and this is getting quite rare these days, no mutual disdain of the club and its fans? Was it harder to take because we loved him and he loved us?

Probably, but, the pain will stem from the hole he has left on the pitch rather than the hole he has left in our hearts. This quite diminutive stature, new to England as recently as 2010, displayed an ability to dictate play at all levels, to take on whoever he wanted and have the confidence and panache to succeed. He was splendidly beautiful with the ball at his feet and yet tremendously impervious when summoned for defensive duty. Dembele's tackle success rate in his first two games this season were through the roof.

Put simply, he was one of the greatest footballers ever to wear the white of Fulham, and that is no unnecessary hyperbole. It's matter of fact.

But, with such a statement comes the realisation that this move was inevitable and unstoppable - more of a case of when than if. Dembele was loyal to us while he could be but a step closer to Champions League football is not to be sniffed at.

And, why can't we move on and, dare it be said, progress? Of course, progression means signings and signings need time, but we've played without Mousa Dembele before and we will have to in the future. This is no 1987 disaster - this is just a player leaving.

A player, undoubtedly, of great talent and prowess, but what is Kerim Frei? What is Mahamadou Diarra? Mere lesser beings? Diarra is showing extended glimpses of his Real Madrid days while the Premier League is well aware of what Frei can do when he puts his mind to it.

All this, of course, ignores the fact that we have a substantial sum of money now available to invest in some new faces. We made a minimum £10 million profit on Dembele - some are arguing that the fee was more likely £17 million plus add-ons - and have made a £20 million profit this summer. Martin Jol has made three high-end acquisitions and has yet to spend any money. We can all expect that to change in the next few days.

The calibre of player we have been linked with is uninspiring at best but we of all people know that business at Motspur Park is done incredibly slowly, highly meticulously and often severely under wraps. And if the Kieran Richardson rumours are to be believed, he's certainly not someone to be turned down at a cost of merely £2 million.

Frenetically quick and wonderfully versatile, he could easily fill any injury-enforced John Arne Riise void or, and this could be more important, make one of the wings his very own to lose. Alex Kacaniklic is hugely talented but, as it stands, has no competition at all - something which is unhealthy for someone of his tender age.

Across the field we still have players of immense value and we should't be sucked into the easily pessimistic view that a Fulham without Dembele is a Fulham without spice. Our defence is sorted and has been for years, while the aforementioned Diarra, the experienced Damien Duff, and the immensely powerful Mladen Petric make us a potent outfit that shouldn't be the least concerned with relegation.

Mix in some incomings - perhaps not £20 million's worth but, you never know - and the only way is up, even if the Clint Dempsey saga is resolved, as most would expect, with his departure. Such a finale to that ongoing situation would only add more money into our search for new talent.

These remaining two window days will be frantic and wild but we can safely say we've seen the worst of it. If anything, I'm glad we still have two days to go.

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