Fulham have bid for four defensive stars including Chelsea’s Malang Sarr and West Ham’s Issa Diop after Marco Silva revealed his true feelings on his side’s stuttering window.
The Cottagers had an abundance of time to prepare for their third crack at the Premier League in the last five years. Indeed, Fulham led the Championship for over half the season last term and never relinquished top spot after taking it on January 15.
However, in stark contrast to Nottingham Forest for example, Fulham’s window thus far has been categorised by stuttering inaction.
The Cottagers have landed a handful of first-team stars in the form of Joao Palhinha, Andreas Pereira and Kevin Mbabu. However, the clear area still in desperate need of addressing is the defence.
And with less than a week to go until their season opener against Liverpool, the Athletic report Fulham have tabled bids for four defenders.
Firstly, Chelsea’s Malang Sarr is in their sights. Fulham have in fact lodged both a loan and permanent offer for the 23-year-old centre-half.
Whether the Blues are receptive to either approach isn’t stated by the Athletic, though an update from the Evening Standard shed light.
They reported Thomas Tuchel’s side have ‘blocked’ a Sarr exit amid their own concerns about centre-back depth. Until Chelsea sign a new centre-half other than Kalidou Koulibaly, Sarr will not be allowed to leave.
Issa Diop bid upped
Elsewhere, Fulham have bid £15m for West Ham’s Issa Diop. That represents an increase of £3m on their initial £12m bid for the 25-year-old.
The Athletic hinted the Hammers may be open to doing business over the Frenchman. Indeed, their report added West Ham want add-ons worth between £3m-£5m included on top of the £15m bid. If Fulham play ball, the suggestion is a deal can be made.
The Evening Standard’s update was less positive regarding Fulham’s chances, however. They stated the Hammers are reluctant to sell due to new signing Nayef Aguerd’s ankle injury that could sideline him for up to three months.
The Athletic also state bids have been lodged for two other defenders, though stop short of saying who.
Regardless, Fulham’s need for a defensive overhaul is clear – at least in manager Marco Silva’s eyes.
Speaking after their 1-1 draw with Villarreal in pre-season last night, Silva bemoaned his side’s inaction in the market thus far.
When asked if Fulham are ready for the Premier League, Silva said: “No. These players are ready for the Premier League. I congratulate them for the work they have been doing. They were fantastic last season and they are working really hard. But we as a squad are not ready.”
Regarding his understrength defence specifically, the Portuguese boss continued: “We have 16 senior players in our squad, no one can compete at this level with 16.
“I will tell you one more. No one can prepare a season with two central defenders at this level.
“Everyone that understands football can see we need at least five or six players, that is clear, if we want to be competitive.
“These players need help to be competitive in the training every day. We cannot be now five weeks in the pre-season with two central defenders.”
Can Fulham end yo-yo trend?
Fulham have either been promoted from the Championship or relegated from the Premier League in each of their last four seasons.
Their lethal attack was behind their latest promotion, and all eyes will be on Aleksandar Mitrovic next season.
The Serbian bagged an incredible 43 goals in the Championship and continued that form into pre-season with four goals notched.
However, playmaker-in-chief Harry Wilson recently suffered a knee injury in a behind-closed-doors friendly last week.
News on the extent of the injury has been in short supply since. However, Silva did acknowledge the early prognosis “doesn’t look good”.
With the defensive end still not addressed, any weakening of their potent attack could be fatal.