Doggy-paddling through the maelstrom that is the race for a Championship play-off place, a scraggly-haired, spluttering Fulham may well be about to dunk below the waves for good.
Manchester United’s reported interest in teenage striker Moussa Dembele, whose goals are enabling Fulham to maintain their peripheral position in second-tier top-six skirmish, is what has prompted this anticipation of their demise.
The 19-year-old has notched eight league goals this term, one fewer than the Cottagers’ record buy Ross McCormack, alerting Louis van Gaal to his abilities.
Currently getting by on two line-leading frontmen, Man Utd will certainly have to add to their striker stocks if they are to remain competitive in the Premier League title race, which they’re currently priced at 4/1 to win and a January move for Dembele has today been mooted in the Independent.
The Frenchman is also thought to be a target for Bayern Munich, who are looking to move for the player when his contract expires this summer, but the Old Trafford switch would be most beneficial to his development. Here’s why…
Van Gaal has no reservations when it comes to fielding talented youngsters and boasts a fantastic record of moulding their talent.
Paddy McNair, Tyler Blackett, Jesse Lingard and James Wilson are among the academy players the Dutchman has granted runs in the United first team during his relatively short reign.
Similarly, he has overseen Chris Smalling’s development into an elite centre-back, while left-back Luke Shaw was in the form of his career prior to his leg break.
Anthony Martial is another youngster flourishing at United.
Dembele’s compatriot Martial shares a position with the Fulham forward and has shone at Old Trafford following his mega bucks move from Monaco.
Despite being used largely out wide, the France international has still mustered three goals in seven Premier League starts.
Striker switches between United and Fulham have seen both parties reap rewards.
Louis Saha traded Craven Cottage for the Theatre of Dreams midway through the 2003/04 campaign, going on to win two Premier League titles, a League Cup and a Champions League.
Dimitar Berbatov went the other way and, while he wasn’t as successful in west London as he had been at previous clubs, the Bulgarian still found time to bag 15 in 33 Premier League appearances during his first campaign.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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