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Is this the year of Pajtim Kasami?

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The case of Pajtim Kasami is a perplexing one. On his arrival at Fulham, Martin Jol lauded his purchase, claiming the Swiss was a "great talent" who would aid our development in both the "short and long term". The Dutchman was, of course, keen not to heap too much pressure onto this somewhat raw, un-nurtured talent but it was clear, not least from his tone, that Kasami was considered a vital creative element in Jol's new-look side.

This importance to the team never materialised, however. Jol seemed to lose faith in his young midfielder with some quite alarming haste, even fining the player for missing a penalty in a Carling Cup tie against Chelsea. Orlando Sa, it was later explained, was the designated penalty taker on that evening and Jol didn't take Kasami's decision to step up lightly.

Following this minor skirmish, the season seemed to go downhill for Kasami. He featured rarely, and produced the goods with an even more striking scarcity. He made seven appearances in total last year and his imprint on the first team was hardly visible. Such was his sudden demise, in fact, that a proposed move to Juventus in the January transfer window didn't even concern the Fulham faithful as much as you'd expect it to.

But then again, surely being linked with a European footballing giant in the ilk of Juve speaks its own story? The 20- year-old may not have been tempted from our grasps, but you don't attract attention from Serie A champions without possessing a morsel of ability and a portion of panache. And that's why you have to feel that Kasami, for all his opening inconsistencies and his enigmatic character, is a player well worth retaining and, just maybe, someone that will make a mark this coming campaign that we would never really predict.

He's not shown us much - hell, even Bryan Ruiz has had his quite exquisite moments - but, in the interests of fairness, he has had little opportunity to do so. He was kept at arms length, with consummate ease, by the likes of Danny Murphy and Steve Sidwell and, later on, Moussa Dembele and Mahamadou Diarra. Those are difficult pairings to get ahead of so, while the likes of Alex Kacaniklic and Kerim Frei are offered free roam of the flanks, Kasami has a job on his hands merely making it onto the pitch.

What we have seen though could be considered evidence enough. In that controversial game against Chelsea which, in the balance of the match, could have easily swung either way, Kasami had the persona of a dominant, creative force that had vision well beyond his years. The major disappointment was, clearly, his penalty miss and that scarred what was an impressive display.

If we look beyond his year at Fulham, it becomes even more difficult to see why settling in South West London has become so complex. At Palermo, a Serie A side that, over recent years have held the deeds to the likes of Edinson Cavani and Javier Pastore, Kasami managed to hold down a first team place for a fairly significant period of time. He may have had no goals to his name but 24 appearances show that he was furnished well for competitive football at the highest level.

So why doesn't he reciprocate that in London? Well, there's no reason to say he can't. FFC have been notoriously slow so far in this transfer window and, despite losing no fewer than 3 first team central midfielders, have yet to move into the market for at least one replacement. Maybe this hesitance is because, in many respects, we have cover in our ranks anyway. Perhaps Jol is prepared, for a second time, to put his weight behind Kasami and allow him to flourish in some truly combative football over this coming campaign.

It's a risk, of course, but many worse risks have been taken. Jol will still need to get players in but maybe this isn't just the year of Ruiz. It could be the year of Kasami too.

Pajtim Kasami - Welcome to Fulham (via loklin88)