Hard to say if this Michael Bradley-to-Fulham talk is just classic silly season stuff, but there does seem to be enough traction behind the reports – first out of Sky Italia – to talk about the possibility, at least.
So, what to make of a possible second, important U.S. international landing at Craven Cottage? In this case, Bradley’s move would be an outright transfer rather than a two-month loan, a la Clint Dempsey.
It really would be a big move for the U.S. international, who has done so well for Roma this year when he actually gets on the field. And there’s the rub.
Bradley has five starts this year and six appearances off the bench (during 17 Serie A matches for the club). So it’s not like he’s wasting away, especially not when considering that his fall minutes were somewhat limited by injury. Still, he’s not a key man for Rudi Garcia, not when Daniele De Rossi, Kevin Strootman and Miralem Pjanic have settled so neatly into their roles in the manager’s preferred 4-3-3. So barring an injury it’s hard to see Bradley breaking in as a preferred man.
Bradley would certainly be an asset in West London, where the Cottagers are about to walk into the new year in a fierce relegation fight. (The standings are here.)
Fulham never really replaced Danny Murphy as an essential two-way man. Someone like Bradley could allow Scott Parker to sit a little deeper and concentrate on destroying; Bradley has the legs to get back into supporting, defensive positions while providing adequate creativity (not to mention passing above and beyond anything at Craven Cottage at the moment.)
If Rene Meulensteen wants to play three in the middle, then Bradley is a picture perfect fit as the linking man, the position at which he excels for Jurgen Klinsmann’s national team.
So he would probably play more, which would sharpen his skills for the upcoming World Cup ahead. But would a short-term win turn into a long-term loss? Because Fulham lives perennially on the relegation edge, and it could certainly happen this year. And where would that leave Bradley this summer? Perhaps contemplating a distracting summer transfer during the critical time in Brazil?
It’s not a bad move for Bradley, if it happens. Then again, staying in place doesn’t look so terrible either.