After days of speculation, Fulham have finally signed Alfie Mawson from Swansea City. The terms of the contract are four-years with a transfer fee of £15 million, plus add-ons that could climb it towards £20 million. That means that the former England Under-21 international will be with the club for as far as 2022 when he is still at the prime of his footballing career at 28 years old.
With nine days to go before Fulham’s first fixture back in the Premier League, the club have now gone on to sign six players while losing just two key members of the senior squad. In total, they have spent almost £70 million in transfer fees and are still looking to fill up the rest of the 25-man roster that will need to be sent to the Premier League offices.
Of all the signings Tony Kahn, Slavisa Jokanovic and the rest of Fulham’s board room, this currently is the one that will be of the most impactful. When Mawson came to Swansea City in hopes of staving off relegation in 2016/17, he produced well in 27 appearances with six crucial goals. Of those six goals, five came off of headers. So that in of itself shows how strong he has been in Premier League competition in aerial battles. While the season after wasn’t as great of a success for his club, Mawson still showed how irreplaceable he was to the Swans. To have a center back of that level of quality will be vital for Fulham’s hopes to thrive as a top flight side for years to come.
As for evaluating what Mawson is like as a footballer, the former Brentford, Wycombe & Barnsley man has developed into a terrific passer of the ball that will surely fit into Slavisa Jokanovic’s system, just like Tomas Kalas before him. Unlike Tomas Kalas, Mawson is much more willing to break an opposing defense with long ball passes, as evidenced below.
Whoever plays out on the right should love having him in the starting XI every matchday. Along with that, Mawson was among the better shot blockers in the Premier League last season with 32. That being said, only Chris Smalling and Harry Maguire finished in the top ten in this category and did not play for a bottom-half club or the bend-but-don’t-break Burnley side. So take that bit of information for what it’s worth. With regards to tackles and interceptions, Mawson very rarely does any of that, but those responsibilities will be falling towards the current crop of fullbacks, a fast-pressing attacking three and the defensive midfield of Jean-Michael Seri and Kevin McDonald.
The defense is now set to have him and Tim Ream at center back, while Maxime Le Marchand will move over to left back and Cyrus Christie will be out on the right. While the spine of the team looks set, I still would like to see Kahn and Co. get massive upgrades at fullback and set the squad up so that a Marcelo Djalo or a Ibrahima Cisse can go out on loan for their development and for maintaining a strong market value. Rumors are looking at Matt Targett to return on a seven figure transfer fee, but this leads to a quandary in the short and long term.
First, Southampton needs cover at left back if Ryan Bertrand ends up leaving the club as well. If that ends up happening, either kiss any notion of Targett leaving goodbye or to see that proposed transfer fee skyrocket.
Second, as much as I love seeing Fulham spend wildly this transfer window, eventually they will either have to comply with Financial Fair Play or make sure that they are not spending well beyond their means. What happens if any of our attacking players are just not cut for Premier League football? Or what about any of our midfielders that were the bedrock of this club throughout the Slavisa Jokanovic era? Eventually those players have to be replaced and it would be not a good sight to see Fulham no longer having the cash flow to spend as lavishly as they are this summer.
This has to be a long term project that continues to build towards the present and future. If this transfer window were to end, their may still be holes to fill for this squad, but I would still call it a tremendous success. And plenty of that is due to the signing of Alfie Mawson.
Welcome to Fulham Alfie!!!