The transfer window was shut wide open only on Thursday. Yet Premier League clubs are already jumping at each other for products such as Everton, who has its sights set on Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic.
When a club suffers relegation, tribulations follow. Returning to the elite division is usually the biggest, especially in the erratic, hostile Championship tantrum. Holding on to star players is another. Top sides tempt their resolve with irresistible offers.
Fulham’s fate was confirmed as early as April 3 after a ninth straight defeat at Watford. The Cottagers were the third biggest spenders last summer with £105.3m on 12 new players following promotion from the Championship. No newly-promoted team had smashed the £100m transfer threshold.
Keeping such heavily assembled squad together is impossible. It appears as though Mitrovic will lead the mass exodus from Craven Cottage. Everton is reportedly offering an escape route. The potential relationship is mutual.
According to Sky Sports, Fulham is desperate to hold on to the 24-year-old but the player is keen to remain in the Premier League next season. The Toffees view him as an option in attack.
The Serbia international, who signed for an initial £22m from Newcastle last summer, notched 11 goals in 39 appearances. He was instrumental in their promotion, firing them into the playoffs with 12 goals in 17 Championship games. But he brings more to the team than just goals.
The Serb is hardly the most modern of centre forwards but he proved that his old-fashioned values could be as vital in the Premier League as they were in leading Fulham there in the first place.
Standing at six-foot two-and-a-half, Mitrovic is a natural goal poacher. Aggressive and self-assertive, he works ferociously hard – even if he occasionally eats a little too much. He’s got the physique and the technical ability a bursting runs and battles using elbows, shoulders and all his considerable brawn.
He is capable of battering and bombarding the opposition at either end of the pitch, a heavy artillery footballer to the core. While Mitrovic is an undeniably physical and destructive player, his technical ability is often underestimated. He is capable of neat lay-offs, flicks and carefully crafted touches to his teammates.
Disciplinary problems, though, have been a major theme of his time in England Mitrovic accrued four yellow cards and two reds in his first season. In the Championship, he managed to keep it to four cautions. It climbed to seven last season.
For so long Everton yearned for such exuberance in attack since Romelu Lukaku’s exit to Manchester United in 2017. Dominic Calvert-Lewin showed great promise but hasn’t seemed ready for the responsibility. Cenk Tosun, Sandro Ramirez, Oumar Niasse failed to step into the Belgian’s big shoe.
Thankfully, Mitrovic wears almost the same size as Lukaku. As long as he keeps his head down.
Written by Toby Prince
Follow Toby on Twitter @prinzToby
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