Plagued by transfer inaction and incessant pleas of “Announce Rolan,” Fulham’s social media man has been offered a welcome period of respite during the last few days. The Fulham faithful had recently grown restless, watching other promotion contenders splash the cash while the Whites failed to secure high-profile transfer targets.
Yet the past week has brought much-needed activity and shrewd pieces of business.
On Tuesday, Oliver Norwood signed on a season-long loan from Brighton, providing industry and guile in centre midfield and also bringing knowledge of what it takes to achieve promotion. Norwood’s presence will be vital as cover for Stefan Johansen and Kevin McDonald, and paired with Tom Cairney and Ibrahima Cisse, Fulham may have assembled the most fearsome midfield in the Championship.
On Wednesday Fulham’s new home kit was revealed, a classy black and white strip that featured Grosvenor Casinos as the main sponsor. The kit is a return to the traditional black and white that Fulham is known for; crucially, the sponsor is no longer blue.
And yesterday, Tomas Kalas re-joined Fulham on another season-long loan from Chelsea. The Czech centre-half became Fulham’s third loan signing of the summer, joining Norwood and fellow Chelsea loanee Lucas Piazon. The move came to the relief and delight of Fulham fans, as Kalas was last season’s standout defender and formed a formidable partnership with Tim Ream. Although Kalas signed a four-year deal with his parent club Chelsea on the same day, the acquisition of the centre-back is brilliant news for Fulham and brings back the Whites’ best defender to Craven Cottage.
However, one massive piece of the puzzle remains worryingly missing. Despite strengthening the centre of midfield and defence, Fulham’s striking options remain bleak. Currently, Cauley Woodrow and Sone Aluko are Fulham’s only recognized centre-forwards, and each player rarely featured in the striker position last year.
The man who filled the void last season was Chris Martin, the loan signing from Derby who divided opinion. The wantaway Scot bagged ten goals for the Whites, yet sparked controversy when he sat out matches in order to force a move back to the Rams. Many agreed that with a more mobile, lethal striker Fulham could have truly challenged for automatic promotion.
It is clear Fulham need an upgrade in the forward position, but as Fulham supporters have seen time after time again, this is far easier said than done. Signing strikers is a notoriously tricky business, one only needs to look to our London neighbours to the east for an example of terrible transfer business. Fulham is no stranger to dodgy striker acquisitions themselves, infamously splashing the cash on spectacular failure Kostas Mitroglou in 2014.
The Whites came close to signing Bordeaux’s Diego Rolan this month, but the Uruguayan international pulled out of the agreement at the last minute (after multiple trips to London). As discussed in the latest Cottage Talk, Rolan is the type of striker that would thrive in the current Fulham system; versatile, quick, and a lethal finisher, Rolan would feed off the countless opportunities provided to him by the creative midfield. Yet in the end, employing a player who doesn’t want to play for the club is never a good idea, and the botched transfer may be a blessing in disguise.
Fulham have also been linked to Norwich striker Cameron Jerome, who possesses a wealth of Premier League and Championship goalscoring experience. However, interest in the 30-year-old has reportedly cooled amid concerns over his age and statistical prowess. The latest striker Fulham have been allegedly been looking into is Aboubakar Kamara, a 22-year-old Frenchman who plays for recently-promoted Ligue 1 outfit Amiens.
All in all, Fulham appear to have a top-class squad that is capable of challenging for automatic promotion, yet crucially without the services of a quality striker. It is vital the club acquires the services of a proven goalscorer who can convert the plethora of chances that the Cottagers create; that much is simple. What is far more difficult, however, is identifying the right man for the job.
As the first match of the season rapidly approaches, Fulham need to sign a striker quickly in order to hit the ground running. The Whites’ strong start to the 2016/17 season played a big part in our sixth place finish, and in order to challenge for promotion, Fulham must replicate that this year. Fulham possesses a solid defence, with all the major parts returning from last year, with the exception of Scott Malone. Fulham has the best midfield in the division, having kept Cairney and bolstered with Cisse and Norwood.
Fulham’s transfer window has been a success so far. Securing the futures of Cairney, Sessegnon, and Edun are all great pieces of businesses, as are signing Cisse, Norwood, Kalas, and Piazon. Now all that is left is to do is to strengthen up front.
Who do you think Fulham should sign? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.