Speculation is rife that John Arne Riise could be on his way to join his brother Bjorn Helge at Fulham Football Club.
With Carlos Salcido reportedly homesick and expected to be granted his wish to leave England, a new left-back is one of Jol’s top priorities this summer. Add to this the fact that the Fulham squad are already in full flow playing Europa League Qualifiers and one can start to understand why additional recruits for strength in depth has become an even more increasing concern for the Dutchman.
If the speculated fee of £2.6m is accurate then the deal would represent a very astute piece of business in a currently highly inflated market. In the current ‘era’ of footballers, there appears to be a slight shortage of quality left-backs. Beyond Cole, Evra and Abidal the list of genuine natural full-backs starts to run a bit dry. There are many who appear to be more left a midfielder or winger like Bale, Michel Bastos, Maxwell and the likes of Giorgio Chiellini and Thomas Vermaelen are centre-backs at heart. Riise is arguably one of the top five natural left-backs in the current game, making him a hot property and a fantastic potential acquisition.
The signing of a consistent top quality full-back would considerably help Martin Jol’s tough task at Fulham. Riise has seven years Premier League experience thanks to his exploits at Liverpool, including over twenty goals for the club. In the modern game, a ferocious long shot, whipped corner or fizzing free-kick are valuable assets that can win a team points. Riise possesses all of these and could make Martin Jol’s first season with Fulham a bit easier if signed – especially when you consider the West London club have the mighty Brede Hangeland to make use of these deliveries!
It is difficult for any club to breach the top six area of the Premier League now without substantial financial backing and Martin Jol has a big job to keep Fulham in the top half this season. That is no disrespect to Fulham – just the way the league is – and you get the impression this is exactly the reason why Mark Hughes left after one season. The speculation over Riise should excite Fulham fans and they should be willing him to join the club. He is still just thirty years old and a top quality left-back who could walk into most Premier League sides.
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