Player Zone: £25m Seri signing proves Fulham are ready to play with the big boys

Fulham sent a slight tremor around the footballing world last week when they announced the signing of Ivory Coast international Jean Michael Seri for £25m ahead of their return to the Premier League.

The highly-rated midfielder was heavily linked with both Arsenal and Chelsea this summer and, according to Sky Sports, Barcelona only pulled out of a £36.8m deal at the final moment during last year’s summer window.

The 26-year-old arrives from Ligue 1 side Nice, where he has spent the past three seasons. It was in 2016/17 where he really came to the attention of Europe’s elite though as the diminutive midfielder provided nine assists and secured a spot in the Ligue 1 team of the season, with his side finishing third in the table.

Jean Michael Seri celebrates for Nice

Seri is a central-midfielder who excels at finding a pass, whether that be long range or in and around the penalty area.

With Kevin McDonald holding, Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic may deploy both Seri and club captain Tom Cairney as creative midfielders in an attempt to keep hold of possession next season.

Seri is also a full Ivory Coast international with 18 caps to his name, having made his debut for The Elephants in 2015.

jean michael seri 2017/18 Ligue 1 stats

Last season Nice laboured to an eighth place finish in the League, but 5ft 6in Seri still impressed. He managed to provide five assists as well as playing 2.1 key passes per game on average, which would suggest strikers Mickael Le Bihan and the ever controversial Mario Balotelli were off target more often than not.

Seri was dispossessed less than once a game on average last season and with a 90.4% average pass completion rate, it’s clear Fulham have signed a player who regards possession as nine tenths of the law.

Further to the Ivorian’s impressive stats though, beating some of Europe’s top clubs to his signature will also open the doors at Craven Cottage to a world of players who may not have considered the West London club before.

A newly promoted club breaking their transfer budget is a sign of intent and Seri now represents the ambitions of Fulham to remain in the Premier League beyond the coming season.

Seri’s Nice team-mate Maxime Le Marchand also joined the Cottagers in the same deal as Seri. The 28-year-old cost just £3.6m and will provide cover for both the centre-back and left-back roles vacated by Tomas Kalas and Matt Targett, who have both rejoined their parent clubs.

The next big name to be linked with Fulham though has been Bordeaux star Malcom. The Sun recently reported that Fulham were set to battle it out with Inter Milan and Tottenham to sign the 21-year-old Brazilian who is rated at £40.5m by Transfermarkt.

Seeing Seri sign for Fulham will no doubt have an effect on Malcom’s decision and could sway the young winger in favour of the new Premier League side, where he is guaranteed game time and can test himself in the world’s most watched domestic league.