Jol wants new play-maker at Fulham, and Spurs' Huddlestone fits the bill

Julian Finney

Manager wants a player to take the strain of Ruiz, and his former Tottenham midfielder could be just the man

Martin Jol has made it a priority to bring in a new play-maker over the summer in order to take some of the strain of current creative linchpin, Bryan Ruiz.

It is widely perceived that the whole Fulham squad requires a dramatic overhaul after a disappointing campaign and it comes as no surprise that Jol particularly wants to strengthen a midfielder department that has been struck by departures, injury and lack of form.

With Danny Murphy and Moussa Dembele leaving last August, Fulham have relied heavily on Ruiz for ideas and though the Costa Rican has impressed, his form is still sporadic as he continues to acclimatise to the Premier League.

It has left our manager wondering if a new midfield maestro is required, probably in the ilk of Murphy, in order to relieve Ruiz of some of the pressure.

"[Ruiz] is one of my better players. He's always playing for the team and looking for runners to give that last pass," Jol told The Sun.

"Maybe we need another passer."

It will come as a relief to many as our weak midfield department becomes more acutely concerning. As it stands, Steve Sidwell is our only long-term central midfielder yet, while he has proved a valuable enforcer, he is no play maker.

It has left many wondering why Ruiz is not dropped deeper, filling in alongside Sidwell and leaving room for either Mladen Petric or Hugo Rodallega up front. Jol, though, had his own answer for that theory.

"The thing is you miss him in midfield and if he's not up front, he's playing too deep," he said of Ruiz.

"That is my dilemma."

There are worse dilemmas to have, but the Dutchman's insistence on a 4-4-1-1 has left Fulham's offensive threat to stagnate towards the end of the season. Dimitar Berbatov can often be left hunting for himself, often to no avail, and there's a feeling he could flourish with someone alongside him.

That could well happen if Jol is granted his wish by chairman, Mohammed Al Fayed. As of yet, the Egyptian has refused to fund a costly swoop for Jol's former employee, Tom Huddlestone, but a summer move cannot be ruled out.

He would bring steel to Fulham's line-up but would also add a touch of much needed class. The former England international is a wonderful passer of the ball and can match Murphy in many areas, despite being only 26.

The only issue will continue to be Al Fayed's willingness to sanction a move but, undoubtedly, this coming window would provide a perfect opportunity to make a concrete bid. The summer window comes without the time constraints and whiff of desperation that is so prevalent in January, so Tottenham Hotspur's asking price may well be lowered from its current £7 million. After all, it's the least they owe us after snatching Dembele and Clint Dempsey.

It would be an ambitious move from Fulham's perspective, and would hit what many perceive to be a reasonably healthy budget, but the investment could well be worth it.

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