Transfers that shook the club: Edwin van der Sar’s arrival at Craven Cottage as Fulham staged massive coup

In our Transfers that shook the club feature, Football Transfer Tavern takes a look at deals that many may not have seen coming and the impact that they had during their time by using statistical data and pundit remarks.

If you thought that the transfer market was crazy enough these days, this swoop could still take some beating. Having been ousted at Juventus, Champions League winner and Dutch international Edwin van der Sar turned up at little old Fulham over 18 years ago.

Of course, there was nothing ‘little’ about Fulham back then – they had just joined the big-time, in their first top-flight appearance for 33 years – thanks in no small part to the funding of former chairman Mohamed Al-Fayed.

While more eyebrow-raising additions at Craven Cottage include the undeniably bizarre homage to Michael Jackson, it would be understandable to label Van der Sar’s arrival as a massive statement of intent from a newly promoted Premier League side.

And boy, did it work – with Al Fayed’s millions, Van der Sar’s clean sheets and a fair few goals from Louis Saha marking the start of a 13-season stay in the English top flight.

So what was a decorated, full international goalkeeper like him doing at Craven Cottage? Well, with Gianluigi Buffon’s arrival at Juventus ushering Van der Sar out the exit door, the Dutchman was impressed by the ‘ambition’ of the club, with Fulham breaking their transfer record twice inside 24 hours as Jean Tigana took to assembling their squad for the new season.

Van der Sar may not have been the Whites’ only incoming that summer – Fulham forked out a whopping £45.5m on new transfers as they set their sights on becoming Premier League regulars. While it worked, with the likes of Steed Malbranque and Luis Boa Morte guiding Fulham to a 13th-place finish on their Premier League debut, no player on Fulham’s roster could have arguably had the presence of the multiple Eredivisie champion.

Having gone on to claim further glories at Manchester United, it was clear that Van der Sar had been ambitious himself by joining Fulham. And although he was not even their most expensive signing that summer (that honour going to £15.8m Steve Marlet), there is little to argue against the 6ft 6in Netherlands international standing out as Fulham announced themselves in a big way.

Has there been a more surprising transfer than Van der Sar’s arrival at Fulham? Join the discussion by commenting below!

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Transfers that shook the club: Edwin van der Sar’s arrival at Craven Cottage as Fulham staged massive coup
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