Fulham’s rather disappointing season indicated the need for major reinforcements to be brought in in the summer months. Indeed, manager Martin Jol indicated that it would be a busy off-season as the Cottagers attempt to increase their squad numbers, with so many players either leaving the club on free transfers or returning to their parent clubs following loan spells.
However, it was originally thought any summer business would only be carried out once the future of the manager had been decided, with rumours continually linking Jol with a move away from West London.
Therefore, it has been a surprise to see Fulham as the by far the most active Premier League club in the transfer market, less than a week after the climax of the season.
The deal for full-back Sascha Riether is an unsurprising one. The German had a stellar campaign on loan at Craven Cottage and even won the club’s Players’ Player of the Year award ahead of star forward Dimitar Berbatov. His performances ensured that whoever the club’s next manager would be, his transfer was always going to be a formality once the season has ended.
The second deal announced this week was that of Derek Boateng from the Ukrainian side Dnipro. The 30-year-old will beef up a midfield that has been sorely lacking in both bite and inspiration this season, and certainly considering the departures of Giorgos Karagounis, Emmanuel Frimpong and Urby Emanuelson later on this summer, the experienced Ghanaian international could prove an astute acquisition in a similar mould to the now-departed Dickson Etuhu.
The third and final deal was perhaps the most interesting one. Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes have been Fulham stalwarts for years but this season has been a poor one for both. Hangeland suffered a dip in his performances though the club captain did at least find some form towards the end of the campaign, particularly after he signed an extension to his contract.
However, the ever-dependable Hughes seemed to be beginning to show all of his 33 years and after being at fault for a number of conceded goals, Fulham looked a more solid outfit when the Northern Irishman’s place in the team was taken by Philippe Senderos. However, the Swiss international is prone to the occasional mistake and there are doubts over the pace of the team’s defence when he partners the similarly leaden-footed Hangeland.
Thus, the signing of the 28-year-old Fernando Amorebieta could prove an inspired one. The Venezuela international was part of the Athletic Bilbao side that thrillingly reached last season’s Europa League final, defeating Manchester United along the way. Indeed, such has been the quality of his performances that there were even suggestions of a January move to Arsenal. Amorebieta brings not only the abilities of a rugged defender but also the class to play out of the back, something with which Hangeland and Senderos particularly struggle.
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