Fulham Fanzoner Henry Walmsley is delighted to welcome the arrival of Maarten Stekelenburg and is feeling positive about the future.
Tuesday saw the announcement of Fulham's fourth signing of the summer. That's right, fourth, and what a signing it was.
Dutch keeper Stekelenburg has been signed for a fee believed to be around £5million, I promised myself I wouldn't say this, but it really is a 'Stek in the right direction'. Sorry.
Unfortunately, it means that one, most probably two other keepers will be out the door this summer. Mark Schwarzer has announced that he will be looking for a new club this summer, and I'm sure all Fulham fans will joining me in wishing him the best of luck in the future. He's been a fantastic player for us, from the day Roy Hodgson signed him to his last match against Swansea, regularly putting in man of the match performances and giving us excellent memories. He certainly still has another season left in him at the highest level, and would be a great acquisition for several Premier League clubs.
It also most likely means that David Stockdale will leave, for the last few years he's been the deputy to Mark, waiting patiently for him to retire to take the number 1 shirt off him, but after the signing of Stekelenburg, and a successful loan spell at newly promoted Hull, I can't see him hanging around, and would expect him to stay at Hull. I'd like to wish him the best of luck too, as he's a great professional, and a really nice guy.
Now, back to Fulham. I think our defence is looking very strong for next season. We have one of the best shot stoppers in Europe between the sticks, Sascha Reither signed permanently at right-back after an excellent first season on loan, two solid centre backs in Brede Hangeland and Fernando Amorebieta, and a good amount of choice at left-back. Perhaps a new left -back is needed, because John Arne Riise had a pretty poor season last year, and Kieran Richardson is extremely injury prone, but there are other areas that need to be addressed first.
We definitely still need at least one more central midfielder, and a creative one at that. We have a few good ball winners, Steve Sidwell, Derek Boateng and Mahamadou Diarra, who is looking more and more likely to be staying, despite it looking like he wouldn't be offered a new contract because of persistent injury problems. Pictures of him in the physio room posted on twitter, would suggest the club are still trying their best to get him back to fitness.
It makes a nice change to get things done early in the summer. Usually we are very late in making signings, and perhaps the club have learnt from last year, where losing our two best players in the last couple of days meant we were unable to replace them, which left us in a very weak position.
We've also announced Adidas as our new kit sponsor and will be going on a pre season tour to sunny Costa Rica, which may have something to do with Bryan Ruiz? The man has a massive fan base and it seems wise for the club to try and tap into this. Big clubs use pre-season tours as a chance to increase their global fan base, and I'm pleased Fulham are doing this as opposed to going to somewhere like Germany as we saw last year.
So, a very good start to the summer for Fulham, and I hope to see more in the coming months!