With Harry Wilson’s switch to Fulham grabbing all the headlines in recent weeks, Tony Khan and the Cottagers’ transfer team did a fantastic job of keeping their swoop for Paulo Gazzaniga under wraps.
Indeed, with it being believed that a number of clubs were pursuing a deal for the Argentina international following his departure from Tottenham Hotspur at the end of last season, Fulham’s capture of the goalkeeper on a two-year deal is a rather significant coup for the west London side.
And, although things have not quite worked out for the 29-year-old so far in his career, having failed to make the number one shirt his own at Southampton or Spurs, should Marco Silva place his trust in the £2.7m-rated man next season, the shot-stopper very much has the potential to become Fulham’s undisputed first-choice ‘keeper for the foreseeable future – a luxury the club have not enjoyed since the days of Mark Schwarzer.
While it is true that both Marcus Bettinelli and Marek Rodak have enjoyed lengthy spells in west London – with varying levels of success – neither ‘keeper ever really looked good enough to box off being the club’s first-choice for a number of years, with Bettinelli leaving Craven Cottage on a free transfer this summer and Gazzaniga seemingly being brought in to challenge Rodak.
However, Fulham could finally have found their main man in the Argentine, who was unfortunate to be the World Cup-winning captain Hugo Lloris’ understudy at Spurs, but nevertheless, highly impressed when called upon for the Premier League side.
These metrics saw the man Virgil van Dijk dubbed an “outstanding” goalkeeper earn an average SofaScore match rating of 7.27, a score that technically bettered Lloris’ seasonal rating of 7.12 that year – albeit with a much smaller sample size.
The following season, an elbow injury suffered by the Frenchman afforded Gazzaniga much more game time, with the 29-year-old keeping two clean sheets, conceding 26 goals and making an average of 3.3 saves per match over his 18 Premier League appearances, with his performances earning a seasonal SofaScore match rating of 6.86.
Unfortunately for the £19k-per-week ‘keeper – as well as for many fans and players of the club – Jose Mourinho then took over in north London, bringing Joe Hart in as Lloris’ number two, and ultimately signalling the beginning of the end of the Argentine’s spell at Spurs.
However, if Gazzaniga can repeat his form at Spurs for Fulham next season, there is absolutely no reason why the 29-year-old cannot match Schwarzer’s spell at the Cottagers’ first-choice shot-stopper, with his signing, from our point of view, being an incredibly astute piece of business by the club.