Every year, Wizzard tell us that they “wish it could be Christmas everyday” but with the way Fulham spend their £100m gift vouchers, it’s probably best that the festive period and winter transfer window only comes round once a year!
When we survived the great escape under Roy Hodgson in 2008, the turnaround was undeniably influenced by our activity in the January transfer window. We signed Paul Stalteri, Brede Hangeland, Leon Andreasen & Erik Nevland to bolster our squad & it’s fair to say that our current first team is lacking players of similar qualities.
There’s no doubt that we need 3 or 4 players to help turn our season around but here’s who some of the Focus Elves have put on their letters to the North Pole when given the option to sign just one player each.
Morgan Calton – Danny Drinkwater (Chelsea)
This time last year, we were calling out for a clinical striker and a left back to allow Sess to blossom further up the pitch…we got those and the good times rolled! This January, the ambition must surely be to bring a bit of solidity into the team. Whilst Chambers has stepped up as a decent CDM, I would hope for Claudio to delve into his little black book and give Danny Drinkwater an opportunity to get back on the pitch.
With Seri and Anguissa not exactly proving their £50m+(!!) combined price tag and Kmac looking horribly out of his depth, this Premier League-winning, England international could be exactly what we need to shore up the midfield. Obviously due to Chelsea paying him eye-watering amounts of money, it would likely need to be a loan, but how vital those 5 months could be if he discovers the form that got him the move down south. Having a player of that calibre should allow TC to push forward without fear of huge gaps opening up behind him. It may not completely sort out our defensive issues, but having someone who knows the English game as well as DD may give Mawson and co that bit more confidence in those ahead of them. It would certainly be a refreshing change!
Daniel Smith – Michail Antonio (West Ham)
With the change in approach under Ranieri, we will need pace on the counter attack, with players capable of beating a man consistently and ensuring Mitrovic isn’t left isolated. Right now, we lack a right sided midfielder that offers what Sessegnon does down the left and a front three of Sessegnon, Mitrovic & Antonio will offer a mouth watering, well balanced forward line. Although Schurrle is currently our second highest goalscorer this season, I feel there’s a Ross McCormack scenario developing where ones individual success, comes at the cost of a balanced, cohesive team. And a winger who is as likely to score goals but also does the tracking back & has pace would only improve us.
Seeing £100 million spent over the summer was exciting at the the time but with hindsight, I think we made a error by not signing the Premier league experience that the likes of Cairney and Sessegnon needed alongside them. Antonio is close to 100 Premier League appearances which is more than anyone in our squad. With the Hammers looking comfortable and in good form under Pellegrini, it would be seen as a backwards move for Antonio’s career but we all know that money talks and at 28, it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that an ambitious contract offer could be attractive, and with owners who approved the sale of West Ham’s historical home, I think it’s fair to say that every player has a price.
James Leacy – Gary Cahill (Chelsea)
At this moment in time I think Fulham will have real issues attracting players to bring in; firstly no current premier league player will want to permanently sign for Fulham due to our position in the league as players won’t want to risk their premier league status and also the fact that Fulham have the allotted 2 premier league loans in the shape of Fosu-Mensah and Chambers means we can’t bring anyone in on loan. Therefore I think Fulham may terminate the loan of Fosu-Mensah as he’s not being played anyway which would weaken the right back position but may allow us to improve that position even further by bringing in someone like Nathaniel Clyne (which I feel has a high chance of happening) or Fulham may look to someone in the premier league who may not be getting the football they want and are in the twilight years of their career.
Therefore I think the player Fulham will bring in as the rumours in papers also back up will be the current Chelsea captain Gary Cahill. Due to Gary Cahill obviously already located in London and him being 32 years of age, this move may be perfect for him and his family as it would mean that he wouldn’t have move and disrupt his family. In addition just like when John Terry moved to Aston Villa in the Championship, I think if Fulham were relegated to the Championship he may not mind as much as a 25 year old perhaps would and could play for Fulham just like Parker did at the end of his career. Therefore I feel this move has a high chance of happening and would be a superb signing for Fulham given his premier league experience.
JMac – Victor Moses (Chelsea)
The right wing is a position that was not naturally filled in our infamous £100 million summer spend with Schurrle, Sess, Ayite, Kebano all being naturally suited to the left. And using a bucking bronco STRIKER in AK47 as a right winger hasn’t fully worked either. We should have gone all out for Cavaleiro as rumours suggested instead of a couple of the luxury players we bagged instead.
Moses is begging for a first-team place. He’s fast, technically gifted, has flair, scores goals, provides assists and has nothing but Premier League experience. He would provide the speed and width on that side of the pitch we are screaming out for without cutting in as an inverted winger and his play would be a good contrast to Sessegnon’s on the left, aiding us with a better more balanced attack. He’s down the road so a move would be easy for him, either as a replacement loan or the £12m he’s reportedly going for. This is a huge deal we need to beat teams like Crystal Palace to because they’re starting to clock – as we luckily did in the summer window – that Jordan Ayew isn’t up to the job. Not only is he great going forward but he TRACKS BACK and would defend when the team are off the ball – his successful experience at Right Wing Back for Conte’s Chelsea squad is surely a given for that. This is the counter-attacking player we need who’s only 27 years old and would thrive up top in either a 442 or 4231. Please Khans, finally get a right winger and do it.
Matt Lampitt – Bobby Wood (Hannover)
Bobby Wood, Striker, Hannover96 – Wood is one of my favourite players in the Bundesliga and US national team. He’s got an eye for the goal, can hold up the ball, and decent pace. He has a solid touch on him and smart football brain. Unfortunately, he has fallen under hard times in being part of the Hamburg relegated side, and now dealing with Hannover96’s near bottom table dwelling. When I watch Hannover matches, they rarely find him enough, and they lack creativity on the wings to get him the ball. When they have, he’s found the back of the net on two powerful headers. Considering our current position, it will be hard to attract any successful striker. So I figure, let’s grab one like Wood, who can certainly help us if our players give him the ball. I think there is a lot of unused talent there, and I believe with the creativity we have via Cairney, Seri and Schurrle; Bobby Wood will be a fantastic pairing with Mitrovic.
Ben Robinson – Joe Allen (Stoke City)
Joe Allen – My Christmas wish list present comes in the form of a Welsh central midfielder with Premier League experience. So far this season we’ve seen that although showing flashes of brilliance, Seri can be a liability and unfortunately Cairney cannot control the game as well as he proved he could in the Championship:
Joe Allen from Stoke city, previously of Liverpool fame, is in my opinion exactly what we need to help us control the centre of the pitch. A box to box midfielder who is capable of popping up with the occasional goal and assist as his stats this season prove (5 goals and 3 assists in 22 apps).
The likelihood of Stoke wanting to let him go is pretty low but any offer close to £20 million is likely to sway the Championship team into parting with him and as he has been a starter for Stoke this season he will come to Fulham fit and ready to play.
Alex Hillier – Miguel Almirón (Atlanta Utd)
With some of the performances over the recent weeks suggesting that we may need someone else to play just behind Mitro up front with some pace and guile, the Paraguayan Miguel Almirón would be a perfect solution. Coming off the back of a stellar season with Atlanta United in the US, in which he played a starring role in his team being crowned champions, there appears to be a market for the signature of the number 10. Due to the Khan’s obvious interests in the US, it’s inconceivable that the club aren’t at least aware of Almirón and the talent he possesses. The link up with striker Josef Martinez was incredible and being able to provide greater levels of support for Mitro up top would give us a greater chance of scoring the goals we need to balance out the horror show at the back.
Heavily linked with Newcastle United already this month and previously with more glamorous continental sides, it appears Almirón is available for somewhere around £20 million. There are other areas of the pitch we need to cover in January – most notably and least surprisingly in defence – but given the financial incentives for our owners to stay in the Premier League sanctioning a move of this size is perfectly achievable for them. However, the main question with Almirón is whether the month off after the end of the MLS season will be enough for him to come into any European league and hit the ground running.
Sam Dymond – Kevin Mbabu (Young Boys)
Since losing Ryan Fredericks in the summer, right-back has been a most problematic position among Fulham’s haphazard defence. So crucial to our success over the past two seasons, gone is both the assertiveness that kept wingers under wraps and the creativity that haunted opposing left-backs; Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Cyrus Christie, Calum Chambers and Denis Odoi have all tried, but have failed to replace the threat.
Those assets can be found in Kevin Mbabu, officially measured last year as the second fastest player in the world behind Gareth Bale. The Swiss defender has blossomed since a disappointing spell with Newcastle, winning his domestic league with Young Boys last season, impressing in the Champions League and earning his first international cap. He would arrive as another defender with pace and power, but, crucially, one with the brain to keep up. Furthermore, his purchase would provide the option to cut short a current loan to facilitate another, more effective, temporary signing.
Aaron Hughes, Damien Duff and Aleksandar Mitrovic: all players discarded at St James’ Park who have excelled on the banks of the Thames – let’s add Kevin to that list. All I want for Christmas is Mbab-u.
Matthew Baldwin – Phil Jones (Man Utd)
I think we all know that our defence this year has been nothing short of disgraceful. On top of that, we are seriously lacking leadership. There’s one way of killing two birds with one stone on this issue, without having to resort to asking that lot down the road (looking at you Gary Cahill).
Phil Jones is the perfect man to fill the right-hand centre-back role next to Alfie Mawson. Yes I know he’s had his injury problems, but this is a gamble that we simply have to take. Phil Jones is one of the finest centre-backs in the country and although I’d like him to stay in one position, he does offer a lot of flexibility when it comes to his role on the pitch. When you add to that what he’ll bring to the club in terms of a winning mentality, he’ll give us that one thing that we’ve been really lacking this year & that’s the pure fight and desire to win. On top of that he’s entering the last 6 months of his contract so should be very easy to negotiate a reasonable price over him.
Yes, it’s a huge step down for him, but hey, if Edgar Davids can rock up at Barnet, then don’t rule us out being able to pull this off.