Fulham’s decision to loan out Toni Stahl is a step in the right direction
The 19-year-old, who made his move to West London from Bundesliga outfit RB Leipzig last summer, has impressed for the Cottagers’ academy side over the past twelve months, whilst also making a solitary appearance for Germany at the U-18 level.
The talented shot-stopper featured on a number of occasions for Scott Parker’s senior side in the pre-season friendlies but he has now completed a temporary switch back to Germany to further his development.
Stahl has also represented Fulham at the U-23 level in Premier League 2 but he wasn’t really in the first-team picture, with the Cottagers already pretty well-stocked in their options between the sticks in the Championship.
Having already bolstered their ranks with some quality additions this summer, the decision to loan out a promising prospect like Stahl for the entirety of the campaign apparently looks like a good move for the Cottagers.
Sergio Rico, who was Fulham’s first-choice between the sticks in the Premier League last season, departed the club earlier in the summer upon the expiry of his loan spell from Sevilla.
Parker, though, opted against bringing in a replacement for the Spaniard, with Fabri and Marcus Bettinelli already in the ranks to compete for the No.1 role.
Former academy graduate Bettinelli has been given the nod ahead of Fabri in the first five games of the Championship by Parker and it is expected to stay that way throughout the campaign if the Englishman continues to put in consistent displays over the coming months.
Young Slovakian goalkeeper Marek Rodak started in the club’s 1-0 defeat to Southampton in the League Cup, with another academy product Magnus Norman deputising on the bench.
Hence, it is pretty clear that Parker has plenty of options at his disposal when it comes to goalkeepers and Stahl was pecking down the pecking order.
To put things into perspective, Fulham need to strive towards polishing the gems in their academy by ensuring that the youngsters are handled in the best possible way and a loan deal for the 19-year-old German starlet seemingly suits the interests of all parties perfectly.
Stahl is held in high regard by the youth coaches but he needs to play regularly in order to work on the flaws in his game and mature as a footballer, something which wouldn’t have been possible had he chosen to stay put at Craven Cottage.
Energie Cottbus are playing in the German fourth-tier this season and, while the level of competition over there is nowhere close to the EFL Championship, a successful loan spell could pave the way for a more significant role in the first -team in the future.
Moreover, the youngster is likely to feel more settled upon his return to familiar surroundings in his homeland, something which should work in favour of his development.
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With that in mind, it is easy to see that the Cottagers have, indeed, done the right thing by sending the German starlet on a loan spell back to his native land.