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Fulham have moved to sign former Arsenal striker Rui Fonte from Braga for an undisclosed fee. After seven years at Portuguese giants Sporting brought him to the attention of English Premier League side Arsenal, he landed a gig there in 2006 though he never managed a first team appearance at the Emirates. He was given 10 first team games by Crystal Palace while on loan, where he didn’t score a goal.
Having returned to Portugal with Sporting, he was sent out on loan once again, this time to Vitoria Setubal but once more, he did not score, and failed to truly establish himself. He had more success in Spain with Espanyol’s B team, netting 8 times in 22 games but could not replicate that in their first team as he yet again drew a blank in an 11-game spell in 2010/11.
Two years spent at the Catalan club resulted in just one goal in the league, before a free transfer back to Portugal beckoned, with Fonte signing for Benfica this time and joining up with their B team.
Although still a slow-burner, things are going much better now and Fonte finally planted his flag last term playing for Braga, scoring 14 goals in 31 domestic games for the club and saw his transfer value suddenly sky rocket. No Premier League teams showed an interest but given their major need for a proper centre-forward, it’s easy to see why Fulham were watching.
Fonte is a striker but typically of the type of player admired by Slavisa Jokanovic, he can play just as comfortably as a second striker. But now that he has found his goal touch, it would be no surprise to see him want to play as a centre-forward more often.
A decent finisher, Fonte has now matured and does not need so many chances to score a goal, though Fulham’s open and attacking style would suit him down to the ground now, especially with the addition of Sheyi Ojo to the squad.
This is exactly what is required by Fulham and in fact has been, ever since Ross McCormack left for Aston Villa last summer. He had a dreadful time there and Fulham were in dire need of a centre-forward – you wonder what they would have achieved with the Scot in the squad.
One last reservation about Fonte is why certain other clubs didn’t go for him. Although this is an incredibly simplistic question I would have to ask; as a Portuguese player with apparent talent, why didn’t Wolves want to buy him?
The answer is unknown, but I have a feeling Fulham might have got their hands on a player who could sparkle under Slavisa Jokanovic.