Rene Meulensteen, former assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson, apparently took very detailed notes while at Old Trafford.
Now manager at Craven Cottage, Meulensteen is digging into Sir Alex’s bag of tricks, pulling out a bit of the former Manchester United manager’s unfinished business.
The Telegraph is reporting that Porto midfielder Steven Defour is ready and willing to make his coveted move to the Premier League as the 25-year-old has come to an agreement with Fulham.
Apparently, all that is left to complete the deal is a medical, a plane ride to England, and a decision by Porto on whether to sell him.
The biggest hurdle according to the reports is that decision by his current club. While reluctant to sell, the Portuguese giants are resigned to the fact that their midfielder wishes to leave, which his agent Paul Stefani confirmed last week. Stefani also recently confirmed Fulham are indeed “interested“.
The perfect storm of a World Cup year, the Belgian’s longtime desire to play in the Premier League, and his inability to get onto the pitch at Porto has presented a wonderful opportunity straight into the lap of relegation-threatened Fulham.
Defour was on Sir Alex’s radar in 2010 during his time with Standard Liege, before a broken foot derailed the move and it never rematerialized. Then reportedly priced in the range of £35 million ($57.6 million), Fulham have reportedly been quoted at just around £6.5 million ($10.7 million).
However, they still have to decide whether to outright sell their man, or hedge their bets and agree to a loan deal giving Fulham the option to buy if they were to salvage their Premier League status and stay up.
It would be a masterclass signing by Meulensteen if he can complete the deal, shoring up what could be Fulham’s biggest need – of which the list is practically endless.
The Fulham central midfield, currently consisting of Scott Parker and Steve Sidwell, does not lack in work rate, but does fall well short in the passing and creativity categories. The addition of Defour would provide pinpoint passing and buildup from the middle, something they’ve lacked since the departure of Cottage throwback Danny Murphy.
All you need to look at are Defour’s numbers. Squawka Statistics has his Champions League appearances accounted for, and while the sample size is small, the numbers are no doubt impressive. In five matches (four starts) against Zenit St. Petersburg, Atletico Madrid, and Austria Wien, Defour completed 90% of his passes (246/274) including 22/23 long balls, something that would suit Fulham well.
He also completed eight of his ten attempted tackles successfully, and could provide assistance to Sidwell and Parker in front of Fulham’s back line, allowing their wingers to push farther up the field.
Aston Villa were apparently in the mix for the player as well, but their interest has thus far been trumped by that of the Londoners.