One of the more active Premier League clubs in the January transfer window was Fulham, who looked to revamp their squad in the dying hours of deadline day.
The Craven Cottage outfit brought Manchester United duo Ryan Tunnicliffe and Larnell Cole to the club, while also signing Danish midfielder William Kvist from Stuttgart on loan. Johnny Heitinga was also signed on a temporary deal from Everton, but it was the realignment of the club’s attacking options that raised the most eyebrows.
Undoubtedly talented duo Dimitar Berbatov and Adel Taarabt left the club to pursue loan options on the continent, while Lewis Holtby was signed on a deal until the end of the season from Tottenham and Kostas Mitroglou added from Olympiakos.
This new attacking partnership will be charged with keeping Fulham in the Premier League, but it is set to be a big ask.
A 3-0 home defeat to Southampton on Saturday leaves René Meulensteen’s men at the bottom of the table with 14 games to play.
The main difference between the two attacking players that have left the club and the two that has come in is attitude.
The two departing stars are both gifted footballers that can win a game with a piece of individual brilliance, but the Craven Cottage faithful has questioned their dedication, work-rate and commitment.
The two men arriving, who will work tirelessly for their new club, should remedy this.
Taarabt was on loan at Fulham from QPR but has seen this deal end to give him a chance to increas his own self importance at AC Milan, while Berbatov will spend the rest of the season with Monaco, before probably leaving the Cottagers permanently in the summer.
Although no team on the bottom of any table wants to lose arguably their two most technically sound players, the replacements brought in promise to form an exciting partnership.
Mitroglou’s £12 million signing must be deemed as a major transfer coup, as the Greece international has been in electrifying form over the last 18 months. Consistently scoring goals for club and country, excelling in the Champions League and firing his nation to the World Cup, the 25-year-old has all the attributes to be a real star.
It will be a matter of adapting to a new environment, and quickly, for Mitroglou, but if Fulham can create chances for the Greek hitman he certainly has a lethal tendency in hitting the back of the net.
The chief protagonist in forging these opportunities will be Holtby, who is ideally suited to play in a number ten role behind Mitroglou.
The Germany international had an up-and-down 12 months at White Hart Lane after signing from Schalke last January. On occasions he has shown glimpses of breathtaking individual ability and real vision, but injuries and competition for places did not allow him a consistent run in the Tottenham team.
If he is afforded a prolonged spell in the Fulham team in the main creator’s role, Holtby can be a key reason that the London side avoids the drop.
Fulham fans have also seen first hand just what he is capable of, as the playmaker rattled in a long-range winner for Spurs in a 2-1 win at Craven Cottage earlier this season.
With only six points separating 11th and bottom place, this season’s relegation battle could be between up to seven or eight teams.
Fulham’s attacking January acquisitions could well be the difference between survival and relegation, with an exciting new pairing leading the line for the Craven Cottage side.