Fulham’s return to the Premier League will start to feel a bit more real next week.

The 2022-23 fixtures will be released on June 16 – it will increase the excitement and that nagging sense of urgency, especially as Fulham are yet to confirm their first summer signing.

The window has been slow so far. This applies to everyone, not just Fulham. Time is running out, with the Premier League season just 58 days away. To make it more pressing, the players return to training in three weeks.

Fulham will be recruiting this summer, and there will be several bodies through the door – because they need them. The first-team squad are thin on the pitch and while there are talented players within the academy – who should have more possibilities with nine substitutes allowed in Premier League matchday squads – Fulham still need to strengthen.

But it is also important to reinforce the barricades they have built.

Fulham have a backbone in place. They have lost Fabio Carvalho but Aleksandar Mitrovic and his Welsh service provider Harry Wilson are likely to be a key part of the attacking threat in the top flight. Wilson is a permanent signing at Craven Cottage, having originally been loaned out by Liverpool with a simple buy-in clause. After a stellar campaign in the Championship, scoring 10 goals and providing 19 assists, he will be aiming to improve his returns from his loan spell at Bournemouth in the Premier League in 2019-20 when he scored seven goals.

Mitrovic needs no introduction other than the usual reference to his 47 goals in 54 club and national appearances this year. He looks set to attack the Premier League in the best possible way next season, after a record-breaking campaign.

Defensively, Fulham’s success will almost rest on the qualities of Tosin Adarabioyo and Harrison Reed.

Reed has consistently been one of the best players since his first loan signing from Southampton in 2019, becoming a key cog for Scott Parker and now Marco Silva.

During Fulham’s 2020-21 relegation season he was named Athleticism player of the season and this year he has come out on top in fights, such as against Middlesbrough in April when the side had to earn a 1-0 away win. Next season there will be a lot more tough games to navigate, and Reed will be key.

Tosin is another of the top names on the squad roster since joining from Manchester City. But, unlike Wilson and Mitrovic, he is not tied to a long-term contract. Wilson and Mitrovic’s contracts run until 2026, while Reed’s contract runs until 2024 with a club option to extend for a further year. Tosin’s contract, however, still has a year to run, with an option to extend from the club.

Fulham contracts

Player Start of the contract End of the contract

2021

2026

2022

2026

2020

2023 (+ 1 year club option)

2020

2024 (+ 1 year club option)

There is little doubt about Tosin’s value to Fulham. Not just through his displays en route to promotion, but because he exemplified his top-flight ability. His signing from Manchester City, for a fee of £1.5m rising to £2m with add-ons, was one of the catalysts for the drastic improvement in defensive performance during the Premier season. Fulham League in 2020-21. Between his arrival in October 2020 and Fulham’s 1-0 win at Anfield in March 2021, Fulham have conceded 22 goals in 24 games, a figure only bettered by City, Chelsea and Manchester United.

His style of play, as a breakthrough defender, made him an asset to Silva’s system, allowing the team to disrupt opposing defensive blocks through both his range of passing and his willingness to enter midfield. ground.

He is a modern and complete central defender, comfortable with the ball at his feet and doing the dirty work. These skills make him a desirable defender, but he is an integral part of Silva’s plans. “It’s not easy to find a centre-back with the quality of the ball like he has,” the Fulham manager said in April. “He knows where I want him to improve. He’s still a young player – his experience (at City) as a player could help him play that way. But he has the quality, the natural quality , to do it.

Tosin’s partnership with Tim Ream has proven as effective as his link with Joachim Andersen, now with Crystal Palace, in the Premier League and it’s no coincidence that both players have received plaudits while playing alongside the Premier League. former England youth international.

Ream, who was granted a one-year contract extension at the end of the season, had a stellar year and was arguably one of Fulham’s best players. Both centre-backs have complemented each other well but Tosin has the better physical attributes.

Tosin’s form, and Reed’s too, deserves new offerings. Fulham wouldn’t want to tie themselves to expensive deals for players not worth the value, which has been happening of late, as evidenced by the club’s release slate this season.

But you also have to protect the value of their best assets. Reed and Tosin could generate interest this summer and beyond. They are also homegrown players, which would add a premium to Premier League interest, especially for those competing in Europe.

There is still time left on Reed’s deal – and on Tosin’s should his option be triggered – but once a player enters the final year of his contract, things can become more uncertain, as the highlighted Carvalho’s difficult situation.

There may be other positive results to strengthening their spine. Many factors have lifted Mitrovic over the past 12 months, such as his good relationship with his manager and the confidence he has regained.

But a key one was the decision to offer him a five-year contract in August. This ended all rumors about his future and illustrated the trust placed in him by the club, his owners and the manager. Mitrovic, whose previous contract ran until 2024, then produced a goalscoring return not seen by a Fulham player for 90 years, and scored the goal that secured Serbia qualification for the World Cup.

While a new deal alone isn’t responsible for Mitrovic’s uprising, there is a strong case for Fulham to try a similar approach with Tosin, and possibly even Reed, this summer. Reed is 27 and in his prime, but Tosin is only 24 and his best years should be ahead of him.

As things stand, there are unlikely to be any immediate developments. It is understood that the current priority is to find new faces.

But as Fulham seek much-needed reinforcements this summer, it’s not worth losing sight of what they have. New contracts may not be a priority yet, but securing their backbone should be added to the to-do list.

(Photo: Robin Jones – AFC Bournemouth/AFC Bournemouth via Getty Images)

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