Yesterday Fulham announced the signing of Shane Duffy on a season-long loan deal from fellow Premier League side Brighton. He joins Tim Ream and Tosin Adarabioyo as the only centre-backs in our squad with significant senior experience, so more incomings are likely in the next couple of weeks. In this article, Sam Cole looks back at his career, his strengths and weaknesses, before getting a Brighton fan’s perspective and giving his conclusion on the deal.
Shane Duffy started his footballing career at Foyle Harps, in his home city of Derry, Northern Ireland, before getting picked up by Everton in 2008. Despite spending six years at the club, he only made ten appearances, playing most of his football on loan at Burnley, Scunthorpe and Yeovil. Duffy left Everton for Blackburn on deadline day of the 2014 summer window, and despite a slow start, his form in his second season earned him a move to Brighton. He has since helped Brighton get promoted and secure their status as a Premier League side, making 149 appearances for the Seagulls in the process. Fulham will be Duffy’s second loan from Brighton, spending the 2020/21 season at Celtic. Despite growing up in Northern Ireland, the central defender represents the Republic of Ireland at international level having picked up 55 caps and scoring 7 goals.
Strengths and Weaknesses
At 6’4, Shane Duffy has a reputation for being a threat in both boxes. He averages 5.08 aerial duels won and 1.32 shots per 90 minutes, putting him in the top 1% of centre-backs in Europe’s top 5 leagues for both categories. His addition, along with Tosin and Mitrovic already in the side, gives us a significant edge when defending and attacking set pieces. He is also very good at blocking the ball, averaging 2.19 blocks per game. We are a team that likes to build from the back, and Duffy will fit into this style of play. He averages an 88.8% pass completion, and despite mostly playing safe passes, it could complement Tosin’s more progressive game quite well.
In terms of weaknesses, Duffy’s pace is probably the most concerning one. With Silva liking to play a high line, the Ireland international could struggle against quicker attackers if balls are played in behind. This hindrance has been less apparent in Graham Potter’s three-at-the-back system but may haunt us if only paired with one central defender. Another worry with Duffy is his consistency. His recent loan spell at Celtic was littered with poor performances, and he often struggled when left out of the team for an extended period.
The Brighton Perspective (Owen Pinnell)
“Since Graham Potter was appointed manager in 2019, it signalled a change in playing style within the club. Previously, Brighton were known as a robust defensive team who could catch teams on the counter attack. This era of Brighton in the Premier League was perfect for Shane Duffy, as his best attributes come when defending the penalty area. His lack of technical ability with the ball at his feet has meant it’s always been difficult for Potter to incorporate the Irishman into his regular first-team plans, whereas under Hughton, he was one of the first names on the team sheet. Duffy departing doesn’t come as a surprise; however, the fact it’s only on loan does. The Irishman is in the last year of his deal, so it’s likely he won’t return to Brighton, but Seagulls fans think of him fondly due to his contributions since joining in 2016. If you’re after someone to defend your goal, Duffy is your man.”
Shane Duffy should be a decent signing for Fulham. Joining on loan frees up transfer budget to spend elsewhere, even if it is at the cost of one of just two Premier League loan spots. His Premier League experience will be vital this season, and his ability in the air gives is a big plus point in both boxes. I fully expect another centre-back signing to come in before the window closes, so whether he will be first choice for long, I’m not sure. However, he is an upgrade on Ream and can play a role in our fight for survival.
Sam’s Verdict: 7/10