This is always the most entertain part of the offseason plan. Who doesn’t like rosterbation and pretending they’re running their favourite club? There’s a good reason that Football Manager is such a popular game. In the last part of the plan, we identified how many players Fulham needed and where Fulham needed them. This time, we’re going to make actual suggestions to fill those holes.
Keep in mind the players here may or may not actually be connected to Fulham via rumors. We have no inside information. We’re just looking at the holes in the Fulham squad and identifying realistic options from across the world to fit into those holes.
The goalkeeper position can go one of two ways. You can bring in a veteran who has a real shot to make the position his and challenge Bettinelli, or you can bring in someone to mentor him and be steady if called upon; but is not expected to win the job. In the former position, Marco Amelia could be a good pickup. He wouldn’t have to move far after being released by Chelsea. He might not be able to win the job, but he’s not so far gone from being good that Bettinelli could just walk into it. If you are sure that Bettinelli is your guy, a different approach might be called for. In that case, I would suggest our old friend Mark Schwarzer. He’s not going to beat Bettinelli for the job. But he’s more than capable of a spot start. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s something of a good luck charm, having won two consecutive league titles as a backup. Wouldn’t a third be nice?
Let’s start at the fullback position. Assuming that Denis Odoi completes his move, that covers either left back, or gives up depth at both fullback positions. Tim Ream is still around to be a backup on the left, but more help there would be needed. We suggest bringing in someone the club is already familiar with, James Husband. Middlesbrough may not want to sell him, but even having him on a full year loan would probably strengthen the club quite a lot.
The center back position is a bit harder to scout, as we don’t know how many the team will be looking for, and how they feel about the current defenders on the squad already. One option to look at is Aden Flint. He’s in the mold of a Brede Hangeland. He can defend set pieces and is a monster in the air. However he does lack pace and isn’t the best at passing. There is also competition for his services rumored from West Brom and Newcastle. Another interesting option would be Toni Sunjic. He played last year in the Bundesliga for VfB Stuttgart. That club was recently relegated, and he could be available. He has most of the good qualities of Flint but is slightly faster and a much better passer. The third option we will present is Patrick Bauer. Charlton Athletic may be willing to let him go after their relegation. While he might not be better than Madl or Ream right now, he could be a very viable option to compete with Stearman for the first backup role, and at only 23 years old still has a lot of potential.
Fulham need help in both the deeper midfield and the attacking midfield. One option is to sign a player who can handle both duties. A good fit for that role would be Darlington Nagbe. It may be hard to pry him away from Portland, but now that he has US Citizenship, there’s nothing tying him to MLS. He can play as box to box midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 next to a stronger defensive midfielder, and he can play all three positions in the attacking band. He’s a high quality player, but his versatility makes him even more valuable. Next the team needs to strengthen the defensive midfield. The first two options are both from Reading. Oliver Norwood has been great for his club and showed well at the Euros. Competition might be tough, with some Premier League teams showing interest; but a good wage, the lure of London, and the promise of playing time could tempt him to join Fulham. The other option is Danny Williams. While slightly older and not quite as highly rated as Norwood, he is also being rumored to leave Reading. The competition for him might not be as fierce, and it’s always fun to have more US Internationals at Fulham. The final suggestion for central midfield is Luca Marrone. The 26 year old has failed to break into the Juventus side after a few years there. He might be willing to move on after being loaned out over and over again. Finally, Fulham will need to address the attacking band. One good option is Sone Aluko. Fulham have been linked to him in the past, and he fits the club needs nicely. The rumors are hot enough that we’ve already scouted him. He could easily play all three of the positions in the attacking band of midfield.
What should the team do at forward? If McCormack stays, he’s going to be your top forward and the position isn’t the greatest need in the world. If he goes, you’ll not only need a depth piece, you’ll also need his replacement. The first option for depth would be Yaya Sanogo. By this point, Arsenal fans won’t be sad to see him go. But he’s still only 23 and if brought in cheaply could be a very good bargain. At worst, Arsenal will gladly agree to a loan; so if his maturity issues continue to be a problem, at least you won’t be stuck with him long term. Another option, and also most likely to be a loan, would be Adam Armstrong. The 19 year old scored 20 goals and had 5 assists in 40 appearances in League One for Coventry City. Newcastle probably aren’t ready to let him go just yet, but they’re unlikely to allow him much playing time as they desperately need to be promoted. A loan with a realistic option to buy would be good business for both clubs. Fulham have already proven they can develop a young striker in the Championship, which makes them a good option for Newcastle. Another plus side is that his excellent pace allows him to play either wing as well as at striker. While those are two excellent options if Ross stays, you’ll need more than just a depth player if he leaves. For a Ross replacement, I’d suggest targeting Wissam Ben Yedder. While expensive, he can probably be bought for less than Ross is sold for and his wages will most certainly be lower. Will he want to come to Fulham? That’s unknown. How will he adapt to a new country and league? Also unknown. But you could do a lot worse in the transfer market.
Some of these players may not be realistic. Mark Schwarzer may head back to Australia to finish his career. Marco Amelia may be too far gone as a player. Competing with Premier League offers for Danny Williams and Oliver Norwood may not be something Fulham can do. Luca Marrone may not want to leave a big club. MLS may not let Darlington Nagbe go. Wissam Ben Yedder may be a pipe dream.
There are reasons to believe these things could happen though. Sebastian Giovinco was convinced to join Toronto from Juventus when in a similar situation to Marrone. Wissam Ben Yedder has also been connected with MLS. Sometimes all it takes to convince a player to join your club is paying them a higher salary than they can get elsewhere. Regardless, think of these players as place holders. The pool of possible signings is so large to be nearly infinite. If one of these guys is not available, there are many more who would be very similar. Even the list of players generated by our staff was too long to mention every player.
All that being said, those are the kind options I would be looking at if I were running the team. If I had to make the decisions on who to sign it would look like this (transfer fees are estimated):
Mark Schwarzer - Free
Toni Sunjiac - £2.5M
Patrick Bauer - £1.25M
James Husband - £1M
Denis Odoi - £1.5M
Darlington Nagbe - £3M
Danny Williams - £2M
Sone Aluko - Free
Adam Armstrong - Loan
That would be just over £11M of spending on new signings. This isn’t a number that seems particularly unreasonable to me. I’m not sure what the team's budget is, but I am fairly confident adding those players would create a much stronger squad.