It is no secret to Fulham fans that Moussa Dembélé will leave the club this summer if they cannot convince him to sign a contract extension before the season’s end. Sadly, such an extension seems unlikely barring a miraculous transformation in club form and player mindset. While the Dembélé contract saga has dragged on all season, his is not the only set to expire in the summer. With no fewer than nine player contracts set to run out, the Fulham board must decide which players it wishes to retain and act decisively to see that contracts are renewed. Below, Cottagers Confidential discusses who has earned a contract extension and whose time at Fulham is nearing the end.
Dan Burn: Dan Burn has had a solid year at the back for Fulham during a season marred by defensive frailties. It would not be unfair to say he has been the only Fulham defender to have truly earned a regular starting role, though the flip side of that coin is that he has only been the best of a bad bunch. Nonetheless, it is critical that Fulham convince Burn that his future lies on the banks of the Thames. With Stoke reportedly interested in his services, time is of the essence.
Scott Parker: Scott Parker has been a dedicated servant to the club and – for a time – was the engine in central midfield. It is undeniable, however, that he is past his prime as a player. At 35 and on a club high £75,000 per week, it is difficult to see any argument to extend Parker’s contract. The club owe him a heartfelt thank you, but the time has come for Scott Parker to move on should he wish to continue his playing career. Could a coaching role loom for Parker?
Jamie O’Hara: Jamie O’Hara has not featured in every game for Fulham but has nonetheless constituted a somewhat important figure in the current campaign. According to Squawka, only Tom Cairney and Ross McCormack have higher performance scores over the course of the season. While he has – like nearly everyone on Fulham – shown some level of inconsistency, O’Hara has had some bright moments and has surely done enough to earn a new deal.
Emerson Hyndman: The future looks bright for the young American midfielder, but he has yet to truly break into the Fulham side. With the club very likely to lose the services of one particular academy player this summer, keeping Hyndman should be a priority. The player’s prior reluctance to sign a contract extension should make the coming months even more nervous than the league table suggests they’ll be. A number of sources note that Manchester United are among his suitors. If it’s first team action Hyndman’s after, however, he would be wise to heed the lesson of Patrick Roberts and consider spending another couple of years at Craven Cottage.
Alexander Kačaniklić: One of the club’s few remaining players with Premier League experience, Kačaniklić may hold a special place in the minds of many Fulham fans. He has been somewhat limited recently to incomplete games or appearances from the bench, and never quite seemed to develop into the player than many at the club had hoped. I’m on the fence about whether Fulham should aim to keep Kačaniklić around for another season or more. Should the club wish to make a new offer, wages may well be an issue.
Shaun Hutchinson: While Shaun Hutchinson’s contract technically expires this summer, Fulham have built an additional option year into the contract which the club may choose to exercise. The player showed moments of promise in a difficult season last year but has seen his minutes limited this year in another tumultuous campaign. It has become clear, however, that Jokanovic does not rate the player highly given his moves in the transfer market over the winter window. His wages are likely to be lower than several other center defensive options, so it may be worth keep Hutchinson around another year for the sake of depth. This one could truly go either way.
Jesse Joronen: Fulham need to find consistency in the goalkeeping department. Bettinelli is likely to step into the starting role over the long-term, and while Joronen could add useful depth, Lonergan - still only 32 - realistically provides more than adequate for Bettinelli when he returns to full fitness. Fulham can afford to allow the player to walk.
Which players should Fulham aim to keep as the club rebuilds this summer?