Fulham has been a curious watch this season.
Two wins from their first 17 games is a dismal record, but despite their inability to win games, they remain very much in the race to stay in the Premier League.
While they can’t win, they turn out to be just as difficult to beat.
And that is largely down to their goalkeeper, Alphonse Areola, who regularly begins to realize his potential in the Premier League.
The Frenchman drew attention against Tottenham and Chelsea, two games in which he threw himself from pillar to post to repel shots and keep his side alive. A possible loss to Chelsea was only the first in six league games – a race in which Areola faced more shots than any other Premier League goalkeeper.
Since his arrival on loan from PSG this summer, the French goalkeeper has been a revelation. The question now is, can they keep it?
The short answer is, well, yes. The club confirmed, when they brought him in for the season, that they have the option of making the deal permanent – an option that will almost certainly be triggered if they stay in the top flight.
Details on the agreed fees are however scarcer. The club didn’t confirm this at the time (obviously) and did a decent enough job of keeping it a secret, with reports surrounding the deal at the time not even bothering to guess.
We know that in 2018 reports in Italy suggested that PSG wanted around £ 30million from Napoli for their services. It was at the end of a season in which he had played almost every game for the champions of France. He spent the next campaign in and out of the squad, and the one that followed on loan at Real Madrid, where he barely touched a ball all season.
The asking price was then affected by his contract, which was due to expire a year later. He changed that by signing a new deal until 2023. So it’s likely that by the summer of 2020, its value will have dropped … but not by much.
The fees agreed with Fulham were therefore probably around £ 25million. Not a million miles from what Chelsea paid for Edouard Mendy this summer, and more or less the market price for a good Ligue 1 goalkeeper.
But a snip for a stopper which alone maintains its hopes of promotion.