Fulham have been dealt a knockout blow in their bid to keep Mika Biereth at Craven Cottage this summer.
That’s according to a report by The Athletic, who claim that the 18-year-old has rejected the offer of a new contract from Marco Silva’s side, and instead has put pen to paper on a deal to move to Arsenal.
The centre-forward’s exit does not particularly come as surprise, as, earlier this month, it was reported that Biereth was showing no sign that he would be staying on with the Cottagers beyond the summer, having stopped training with the club at the end of last season.
With Fulham having made fantastic strides with their youth team set up under the leadership of Huw Jennings in recent years, with no less than 44 club-grown players making their first-team debuts under the academy director, the loss of such a highly-rated prospect as Biereth is something of a nightmare for Tony Khan and his side.
Indeed, it is easy to see why Arsenal made a move for the forward, as, over his 21 U18 Premier League South appearances last season, the 18-year-old scored 21 goals and registered 13 assists, finishing as the league’s top scorer and helping his side win the competition for the second season in a row.
And, while it is an unavoidable scenario that some players will slip through the net, considering just how much potential Biereth had demonstrated he possesses throughout his time in Fulham’s youth teams, the fact his contract was allowed to run down – something that opened the door for Arsenal to swoop for the starlet – essentially renders all of the Cottagers’ hard work to improve their academy and its players redundant.
Indeed, if the best talents the club produce are simply cherry-picked by bigger teams before Fulham offer a player professional terms – meaning the west London side neither benefit from the player’s talent directly nor do they receive a significant transfer fee from a potential sale – the argument is easy to make that Jennings is simply putting time, effort and resources into improving the quality of a player who may well never feature for the club.
As such, it would appear highly advisable for both Jennings and Khan to learn the lessons of Biereth’s departure, and look to secure the future of players with a significant amount of potential at the earliest possible opportunity.