Fulham look set to mount another strong challenge for promotion to the Premier League this season under the management of Slaviša Jokanović. They are currently sat just one point off the play-off places in the Championship and only eight points off Gary Rowett’s Derby County side who occupy the second automatic promotion place.
The Whites made a relatively slow start to the season, but they are now starting to show why they should be seen as genuine promotion contenders. They have a host of attacking talent within the squad including the likes of Ryan Sessegnon, Aboubakar Kamara, Stefan Johansen and more.
However, one player that seems to be attracting the most interest from Premier League sides this month is the influential midfielder and club captain Tom Cairney. We take a look at how the 27-year-old could flourish in the top flight should he secure a move away from Craven Cottage before the transfer window closes next week.
A proven performer
There is no doubt that Cairney deserves an opportunity to test himself at a higher level as he has been outstanding for Fulham since joining from Blackburn Rovers in 2015 for a fee of around £3 million. He made 45 league appearances for the club last season as he helped guide them to a play-off finish. They were seen as favourites by many to achieve promotion via the playoffs but they were ultimately eliminated by Reading over two legs in the semi-finals.
It was believed that Cairney might have departed the club following their failure to achieve promotion, but he remained at Craven Cottage and has continued to perform this season. He has made 17 appearances so far in the Championship so far in this campaign and has found the back of the net once. However, he brings a lot more to the team than just his goalscoring ability. He is an excellent leader with a wealth of experience and has the quality to open teams up. He is without doubt one of the best midfielders in the Championship and is up there with the likes of Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Rúben Neves.
The fact he did not leave Fulham at the first opportunity last summer is also a good sign in regards to his character. He wanted to remain at the club and try and help them earn promotion this season. Whether Cairney has changed his mind on his future during the last six months remains to be seen, but whatever he decides to do, everyone connected with Fulham cannot fault his commitment to the club.
A number of sides reportedly interested
If Cairney did decide that he wanted to leave Fulham, he would have plenty of options including teams from the Premier League. West Ham United have reportedly already had a £15 million bid rejected by Fulham, and it remains to be seen whether they will come back with an increased offer. West Bromwich Albion are also said to be tracking the midfielder’s situation but at this moment in time have only registered their interest. Cairney may decide that the best option is for him to remain at Fulham due to both West Ham and West Brom being in relegation trouble and Fulham having a very good chance of securing promotion to the Premier League themselves in May.
Fulham’s next match comes against Barnsley in the Championship on Saturday afternoon at Oakwell, and it will be interesting to see if Cairney features in this game or whether all the transfer talk has swayed his head.