Fulham would have thought that they lost the opportunity to qualify for the Premier League as they lost on the final day of the league campaign where a win would have seen them through by leapfrogging Cardiff City for a direct qualification spot. However, they lost against Birmingham City and had to be content with a playoff spot. Slavisa Jokanovic was able to pick up his men from that slump as they won the playoffs and gained qualification to the Premier League the tough way.
The manager will be aware that his real challenge will be keeping the team in the top flight and for that the Cottagers will need to add reinforcements to their squad. Fulham recently tabled a bid for Espanyol’s defender Diego Lopez, however, it fell significantly short of the Spanish club’s valuation of the player. The versatile defender can also play in the role of a defensive midfielder as he is comfortable and composed on the ball.
The player has a release clause in excess of €35m and the Spanish club is only set to listen to offers above the prescribed mark. The Lilywhites’ initial bid fell short of that mark and it remains to be seen whether they will again come up with an improved offer for the defender.
The former Napoli defender was a stalwart for his side in the heart of defence as he made 43 appearances in all competitions. In a situation where Jokanovic fails to land him, we look at three possible alternatives he can go after.
The Villareal defender could be decent like for like replacement at the back as he is defensively strong and has good positional sense. The 28-year-old is technically sound on the ball, therefore, he will suit well for Jokanovic as he often encourages his team to build from the back.
Aston Villa are in need of money and that is no secret. The Cottagers will be aware of that and they can make a massive coup by adding Chester to their squad as he was instrumental for the Villans last season as they came perilously close to qualifying for the Premier League.
The Hammers have taken some massive steps in the transfer market, especially in the defensive area. Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena are the two centre-backs they have acquired which is likely to put Reid down the pecking order at the Olympic Stadium. The New Zealand international has a decent amount of experience in the Premier League and he can be a decent bet for the Cottagers.