As an MLS fan, I first became aware of Tim Ream as a rookie with the New York Red Bulls. He was highly touted as a first year player and started receiving international call ups, though no one was really sure where his best position was. Was he a central defender? Was he a defensive midfielder? No one really knew. Then he moved to Bolton Wanderers, they were relegated, and he fell off the map for most Americans. I admit that I've only seen him play a handful of games since 2012. The fine people at Lion of Vienna Suite have watched him play though, and were kind enough to give their thoughts on the matter.
Cottagers Confidential: I remember constant argument whether or not Tim Ream was a ball playing center back or a defensive center midfielder. Now I've seen that he's spent a lot of time playing left back (a position of need for Fulham). What do you think his best position is or is his versatility his best attribute?
Lion of Vienna Suite: He’s a bit of both, but also a lot of neither. Nobody is quite sure where his best position is – but most agree it’s not central defence. Personally I’d have liked to see Bolton try him in midfield given his technical abilities, but left back is a reasonable fit due to his pace allowing him to compete with most wingers, whilst also not being in a position where his own failings can cause too much grief. So versatility is an asset, but also it can be a negative too. Jack of all trades, and master of none.
CC: He seemed to be a popular player at Bolton, has he improved over the years? Does he still have some growth left or is he really at his peak now? For the rumored fee £1.5-2M, do you think Fulham are overpaying?
Lion of Vienna Suite: Popular-ish yes. Most fans rated him but some saw him as a weak link whose consistency – a 6/10 most weeks – was about as good as it could get. The fee, should the add-ons come to pass will equate to the £2.3m we paid NYRB for him. He’s definitely not gone backwards as a player but you’d do well to find any real improvements in his game. Thoroughly nice guy, and sometimes perhaps a bit too nice – doesn’t have a real nasty streak or killer instinct, I’d say. You’ve got a good player for a good fee, and we’ve let a high earner go and will sign at least two with the money – so everyone’s happy.
So, if you were expecting Tim Ream to come in and be the savior of the defense, hold your horses. I'd guess another central defender might still be on the list for Fulham. But this is the kind of player Fulham need. With Kay Vosser being your backup left back, Tim Ream would be a huge improvement. He can also play in central midfield or in the center of defense. He's basically what we hoped Fernando Amorebieta is, without the nasty streak that leads to red cards.
While I've never been super high on Ream (there has always been a loud contingent of Americans calling for his inclusion on the national team), it's hard to find a lot of fault with this move.