Fulham FanZoner Robert Hopping sings the praises of Ashkan Dejagah, the Iran winger who's enjoyed a superb debut campaign at Craven Cottage.
It quietly slipped under the radar last week - the news that Ashkan Dejagah will be out for the rest of the season with a ruptured ankle ligament following his collision with an advertising board in Fulham's 3-2 home victory over QPR.
Whilst not as well known outside SW6 as perhaps players of the ilk of Dimitar Berbatov or Brede Hangeland, Dejagah has been a very important player this season and will be missed sorely by Fulham fans and the team alike.
Dejagah was signed by Martin Jol on transfer deadline day last summer for an undisclosed fee from Wolfsburg, where he had spent the previous five seasons and had made over 150 first team appearances. He won a Bundesliga title whilst there and became an important member of the squad.
He also represented Germany's Under-21s, (which is no mean feat) but chose instead to represent Iran at full international level, where he scored both goals in February 2012 against Qatar in a 2-2 draw in a 2014 World Cup qualifier. While the aforementioned Berbatov has rightly taken a lot of plaudits this season thanks to his 13 goals and general link-up play, Dejagah has been steadily putting in decent game after decent game. He is tricky with his feet and is not afraid to run at the opposition and go past them.
Combining well with full-back Sascha Riether down the right flank (as they also did for Wolfsburg), Dejagah has passed and jinked his way past many a Premier League midfield and is always a decent outlet if the defence is under pressure.
Dejagah has yet to register a goal for Fulham and this is the only blot against an impressive first season in English football. Yet with one assist, 18 'key' passes and an 81% pass completion rate, next season promises much.
He has made 24 first-team appearances and it is a credit to his performances that Jol, when speaking about Dejagah's injury, stated: "It's disappointing. When you come to England you have to cope with the Premier League and that is what he did... we needed his pace and his ability on the ball. He was man-of-the-match a couple of times."
When it comes to deciding on the Fulham player of the year, a thought should go to Dejagah. Berbatov has obviously been sublime on occasions and Mark Schwarzer has been his brilliant and game-saving self, but Dejagah offers something a little different. His consistently exciting and attack-minded performances have endeared him to all at Craven Cottage and the club will be more than happy to cheer him on come the start of next season.