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2018 Fulham Player Reviews: The Benchwarmers

In the first in a series of player reviews, let’s take a look at all the players that had bit parts this past Championship season.

Fulham v Bristol Rovers - Carabao Cup Second Round Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Macelo Djalo

For such a long season the Championship is, it comes as no surprise that Fulham were in need of depth all over the place, especially at center back after the losses to Michael Madl and Ragnar Sigurdsson via January transfers. Sadly for all involved, Djalo has not been the answer they have been looking for as cover in that position. In fact, the situation turned to basically having Denis Odoi moving over there whenever the form of Tomas Kalas wasn’t good enough. Despite still being 24, this is not a good sign for Djalo and his prospects as a Fulham player in the future, especially when you consider that Premier League calibre players will be required in that position in the long term.

Jordan Graham

Next up is a former loan signing that just wasn’t able to get an opportunity to see the field. And in some ways, it was a combination of the lack of faith Slavisa Jokanovic had in Graham and a sign that he just was never good enough to begin with. The Wolverhampton wide forward was known for putting in a good cross when requited, but with one key pass to show for it, his opportunities to see the field in league play were just not going to happen.

Luca De La Torre

We go from one attacking wide player to another as this next player is one of many Fulham academy products to get game action this league campaign. Among the many other accomplishments De La Torre achieved this past campaign was also his first ever appearance for his country at senior level after becoming a substitute for the United States in their most recent friendly with Ireland. He’s already played a major role in the 2015 Under-17 World Cup and the 2017 Under-20 World Cup so the sky is just the limit for him. The question, like all youngsters will go through, will be whether he will be able to get game time now that Fulham are in the Premier League. That is why rumors have been coming out that De La Torre could go on loan to the New England Revolution and play in the MLS. Whatever comes of his upcoming age-20 season could determine where De La Torre’s future lies in the long run.

Rafa Soares

Next is another in a long line of miserable summer signings that led to the Craig Kline fiasco. On the surface, Rafa Soares’ inclusion to Fulham made sense. With Scott Malone leaving for Huddersfield, the club were in need of a full service left back that could create the same attacking runs as done previously. The problem was they were picking a player that was just starting to get his footing a senior club level football and wasn’t really that much of a force at Portugal’s youth teams. For example, he was not a part of the Under-21 squad that lost to Sweden in the 2015 European Championships. Add in the fact that Soares was dealing with a bum ankle and just nothing went right in this saga. It was only fitting to see the 23-year old return to FC Porto’s reserve team before this season came to an end.

Tayo Edun

It’s one thing to see Luca De La Torre being rumored to a loan move to an MLS club. It’s another to see an English youth product be in the same circumstance as Edun is with the Portland Timbers. Before this past campaign happened, the 20 year old played a major part in England’s European Under-19 Championship where he was lined up in a holding midfield position. It was also the same position Edun played while making his debut this season against Derby County. However, he has shown to be a quality left back at the PL2 level as well. But like De La Torre, it will be fascinating to see if Edun will cut it at Premier League level and with the pressures of the club in need of some reinforcements that can play at that caliber now, who knows if Edun will get an opportunity to play to his full potential at Fulham.

Cyrus Christie

Next up is a January transfer that may or may not have a big impact next season. Either way, Christie came Fulham to provide cover for Ryan Fredericks if the latter were to be injured or out of form during the club’s run towards Premier League promotion. And if there is no move to get an upgrade at right back, Christie will come in as the out-and-out starter. He may have only had one start and 142 minutes for Fulham this past season, but his quality was not unrecognized when he played. Against Bristol City, Christie pulled off a wonderful assist off the outside of his right foot to set up Aleksander Mitrovic’s first ever goal for Fulham. With that ability and his reputation as a more defensive fullback, he will come in handy this Premier League season as Fulham may not have the same amount of possession of the ball as they had in Championship seasons past.

Ibrahima Cisse

We now turn our attention to a midfielder that just may not have what it takes to cut it at this level. When he signed with Fulham this past summer, Cisse was supposed to be a part of Fulham’s midfield rotation and provide cover at defensive midfield. Instead, the 24-year old was almost nowhere to be found and wouldn’t even be guaranteed a spot on the bench. Now that Fulham are a Premier League side, quality is required across every position on the team, including those that aren’t expected to start every week. As a result, who knows if someone like Cisse will last with the club unless he really is able to put much better performances in cup competitions starting next season.

Yoan Mollo

Like Jordan Graham, Yoann Mollo was supposed to come into Fulham to provide the support needed down the right wide forward spot of Fulham’s 4-3-3 formation. Instead, the 28-year old Frenchmen was nowhere to be found once Sheyi Ojo and other established figures like Floyd Ayite were hogging all the minutes. As it turned out, Mollo was among the many signings that was ridiculed by supporters who wanted to see Craig Kline go. They would get their wish at the end of October and Mollo followed suit when Fulham terminated his contract at the end of January. He is now under contract with Qatari side Al-Rayyan.

Sone Aluko

Lastly, we give one more round of applause to Sone Aluko. Yes, all his appearances were back in August before he signed with Reading, but that doesn’t mean he made no contributions to the club this season. While never a great shooter, the Championship veteran brought stability to Fulham when they needed it most and almost guided them towards Premier League promotion in 2016/17. Instead, Aluko lasted more than one season down at Craven Cottage and his serviced were able to churn a profit for Fulham when he was given a £7 million transfer fee to move to the Madejski Stadium. It was a business move that worked well for both parties as Aluko went on to start 36 times for Reading and played 3,045 minutes of league action while Fulham used said transfer fee to stock up on reinforcements. Even with the club will be on the spotlight on England’s top flight, don’t forget to give a little thanks to the man who brought them back to where they are.