Fulham defeated Aston Villa 1-0, courtesy of a Tom Cairney goal in the EFL Championship playoffs at the Wembley Stadium this past weekend, to earn a promotion back to the Premier League.
It was a deserved result for Slavisa Jokanovic’s side that has been playing arguably the best football in the English second division over the past couple of seasons. Now that they are back in the big league after four years, they will want to maintain their Premier League status for a number of years to come.
To that end, the summer transfer window will play a huge role in defining how the season will pan out for the Cottagers.
There will be a number of key decisions that need to be taken regarding loan players like Tomas Kalas and Aleksandar Mitrovic, who have played a pivotal part in Fulham’s success, while the future of some of the key players like Ryan Fredericks and Ryan Sessegnon needs to be secured at the earliest.
However, there is no second thought about the fact that the squad needs to be strengthened this summer if they are to put up a strong challenge in the top-flight.
While significant investment will definitely be needed, snapping up a player or two on free transfer could prove to be a shrewd way for the Londoners to operate. Here are three players that they should look to sign on a Bosman transfer this summer.
Jonathan Bamba (Saint-Etienne)
The 22-year-old has generated interest from a number of Premier League clubs including the likes of West Ham United and Crystal Palace, and Fulham too should consider looking at him this summer.
An academy product of Saint-Etienne, Bamba enjoyed his breakthrough campaign with the senior team in the 2017/18 campaign and came up with highly impressive returns of 8 goals and 11 assists in 37 appearances across all competitions. The attacker also has scored three times in 10 appearances for the France U-21s and has been heralded as one of the future stars of French football.
Capable of playing on either flank or through the middle, the 22-year-old possesses pace and trickery. As highlighted by his numbers this season, he can score and create goals in equal measure. A young and talented prospect with a solid season behind him, Bamba could prove to be a great bargain for Fulham.
Adam Maher (FC Twente)
Once regarded as the future of Dutch football, Adam Maher’s career has taken a downward path in recent years. Crowned the Dutch Eredivisie Young Player of the Year back in 2011/12 after a stellar campaign with AZ Alkmaar, sky was the limit for the midfielder.
However, a difficult spell with PSV Eindhoven and a season that ended in relegation with Twente has left the 24-year-old in search of a new club this summer. Despite Twente’s disappointing campaign, Maher finished the 2017/18 season with 5 goals and 5 assists in 23 appearances across all competitions.
Once compared with Spanish pass maestro Cesc Fabregas, the five-time capped Netherlands international is a technically gifted player with an eye for the pass and the ability to create chances in plenty. Not shy of doing his defensive duties either, Maher makes important contributions in both halves of the pitch.
Things might not have gone all too well for the talented playmaker in recent years but his abilities are there for all to see and given his technical abilities, he could be a great fit into Jokanovic’s Fulham side.
Diego Reyes (FC Porto)
The 25-year-old Mexican centre-half has lost his spot in the starting XI at Porto but remains an integral part of the national team and has gone on to make 53 appearances for El Tri, which is a strong indicator of his abilities.
Reyes managed just 12 appearances in the Liga NOS in the 2017/18 season as Porto were crowned champions, scoring two goals and assisting one. He did feature 6 times in the UEFA Champions League and 6 times in the cup competitions.
Good in the air and comfortable with the ball at his feet, Reyes is a talented centre-back who also showed that he is equally comfortable in the defensive midfield position this past season. Just 25 years of age, he will only get better from here on.
With Tomas Kalas set to return to Chelsea after his loan spell, a move for Reyes makes sense for Fulham, especially considering that he won’t cost them a penny.