Fulham didn’t spend anything close to the £100m they spent back in 2018/19 this summer.
The Whites instead opted to save a lot of cash by dealing primarily with loan deals, spending less than £15m this summer despite adding 9 new players to their squad, while also spending an additional £16m on making Harrison Reed and Anthony Knockaert’s loan moves permanent.
Their recruitment drive this summer saw six new players join on loan, and while a number of those are incredibly exciting players, they won’t all be able to play at the same time.
Premier League rules state that you’re only allowed five loanees in a matchday squad, so Fulham will have to leave one of these men out each week, and that leaves Scott Parker with 34 tough choices to make between now and the end of the season.
Of course, this could all have been avoided if Tony Khan got his chequebook out and spent more freely on permanent transfers, but as things stand, Parker needs to make some cut-throat decisions.
It seems unlikely that Alphonse Areola, Ruben Loftus-Cheek or Joachim Andersen will miss out, with the trio being marquee signings from clubs that regularly compete in the Champions League, so that means that one of Ola Aina, Mario Lemina or Ademola Lookman will likely miss out each week.
Aina is Fulham’s starting right-back at the moment due to Kenny Tete’s calf tear, and we don’t yet have a return date for him, so Aina will likely be in the squad for the foreseeable future, while Ademola Lookman was a rare bright spark in Fulham’s 1-0 loss to Wolves at the weekend, and we’ve previously tipped him to earn a starting berth in the near future.
That just leaves Mario Lemina, and to be honest, it makes sense if he’s the one who misses out due to how much competition there is in the midfield.
Andre Frank Zambo Anguissa seems to be a nailed-on starter these days and he’s a £30m club-record signing, Loftus-Cheek has just arrived on big wages from Chelsea, Tom Cairney is the club captain, while £25m-man Jean Michael Seri also remains at the club.
Lemina may have only just arrived, but his position in the matchday squad may already be at risk due to Fulham’s over-reliance on loan deals.
It will certainly be interesting to see how Parker navigates these rules.