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2015/16 Fulham Player Profiles: Moussa Dembélé

A Potent Strike Force is broken up as Fulham loses another budding star.

Fulham v Charlton Athletic   - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Moussa Dembélé

Rank: 3 | Age: 19 | Starts: 38 | Appearances: 46 | Minutes: 3,360 | Goals: 17 | Assists: 6

Player Profile

When I think about the loss of Moussa Dembélé, a refrain from a popular Queen song comes to mind: “And another one gone, and another one gone - another one bites the dust”. Fulham just can’t seem to hold on to their talented Dembélés.

It was announced last week that Moussa Dembélé was set to join Scottish side Celtic on a four-year deal starting the first of July. His departure was no shock to the Fulham faithful, since clubs from all over Europe (and beyond) had been linked to the talented and prolific striker. Everyone sporting a black and white kit had been holding their collective breath that Slavisa could convince the youngster to stay at SW6, but the allure of Champions League action, and the opportunity to play alongside his friend Patrick Roberts, were too tempting for the young Frenchman. Many fans question his decision to make the seemingly lateral move to the Scottish Premier League, but in many ways the decision could favor the striker. Please see the excellent article written by Chris Gilberston for his analysis of the move.

The 19 year old arrived at Craven Cottage in the summer of 2012 at age 16 from Paris Saint-Germain, and made his debut for the club against West Ham in our final season in the Premier League. That same season, he started for the first time in the Premier League, as Fulham lost 3–1 at home to Everton. Also in that year he played a critical role for the Under-18s as they reached the final of the FA Youth Cup for the first time in club history.

Dembélé scored his first senior goals for Fulham in a League Cup defeat to Derby County in October of 2014. In a total of 64 appearances in black and white, he bulged the net 19 times. But it was last season when he truly established himself as a scoring machine with his 17 goals, as he and Ross McCormack cemented the most lethal partnership in the Championship.

Created by Ben Lutz, Data from whoscored.com, Methodology by Ted Knutson via statsbomb.com

Season Review

Statistics don’t always tell the full story (and many times they come under fire), but in this case they do a pretty good job of stating Dembélé’s worth to the club. In his final season with Fulham, he truly came into his own:

  • Total appearances: 46
  • Minutes played: 3,360
  • Total goals: 17
  • Assists: 6
  • Man of the Match awards: 2

It can be debated as to whether or not Fulham would have survived in the Championship another year without Dembélé, but without his goals and assists it’s very likely we would have lost this latest relegation battle. Think back to the stoppage time goals against Blackburn, Burnley, and MK Dons. How about the brace he netted in the 4 – 2 comeback victory versus Reading? Or the 65th minute strike against Sheffield Wednesday? These are just a few of the times he scored in key matches, which in turn likely earned Fulham an additional 13 points: we ended the season at 51. Charlton was relegated with 40. The math isn’t complicated.

2016/17 Best Case

The best case scenario for Fulham is done and dusted - if he was going to leave, we collectively hoped that he would be picked up by another English team. As it stands, however, the transfer fee the club will earn is at most £500,000, and perhaps even less when an undisclosed fee to PSG is paid out. It’s impossible to gauge how much Fulham could have earned from the sale of one of our most prized assets to another English club, but it certainly would have been in the millions – millions that could have been used for another strike partner for Ross, or to shore up the leaky defense. Now we’ll never know.

Regardless, with Dembélé’s departure we close the door on yet another talented player to cross the threshold of Craven Cottage for the last time. He joins Patrick Roberts and Emerson Hyndman as recent bright stars that we couldn’t hold on to. We may never know for sure why Moussa chose to leave, especially since in his case it wasn’t for lack of playing time, or that his pay packet wasn’t full enough (I’m pretty sure we were tossing buckets of money at him in the end). But he’s gone, and we move on.

Despite all this, we need to wish the young lad well, and to thank him for his time and effort at the club. We can only hope that at the end of the upcoming campaign his absence won’t have us singing Queen’s refrain again – this time about another lost season.