Friday, 8 May 2015

Seko Fofana - Fulham loan review

With the end of the season approaching I thought it'd be a good idea to check on how our youngsters out on loan have been progressing. I've tried to pay attention to as many games as I can, but it's a little difficult with many matches in different leagues limited to simple highlights and so on. Not the fairest of indicators a player's overall game... I decided to get in touch with a few fans and bloggers of the various teams where our players are stationed for a more detailed insight.

First up I approached a couple of Fulham supporters about Seko Fofana. A tall, powerful and marauding attacking midfielder, capable of thunderous long range goals - the inevitable Yaya Toure comparisons make sense but there's a huge difference playing amongst youth team graduates and the professional leagues where your size and power aren't as immediately advantageous. Nevertheless, he's a talent and he was nominated alongside players such as Marcos Lopes and Jason Denayer for the EDS Player of the season last year so I was particularly intrigued to hear how his debut campaign as a professional footballer had panned out.

I spoke to two Fulham fans about his performances for the cottagers this year - Chris Robertson from and Russ Goldman, host of the internet radio show 'Cottage Talk'. Their thoughts are below.

The immediately obvious one - how has he done this season? Has the loan been a success?

Chris - Loan has been a success, but not an overwhelming one. Seko’s largely done well but he’s not excelled for the reasons you talk about below, wrong time and place for him to really dominate. Considering he’s a young player, it’s hard not to feel that by playing him we’re aiding another club’s development instead of our own decent youngsters. Saying that, I and most others do like and rate him. He is a personable kid and people love his energy. He only scored one for us but it was a very popular goal.

Ross - His loan was a success but near the end of the season, we saw less and less of him. However, I think that had to do with the manager wanting to grind our results with more experienced players.

What's the perception of his potential as a player within Fulham? Do they think he'll have a chance at City? Or will he end up at a lower level?

Chris - He’s certainly not ready for City yet. If he gets another loan or two, then I’d say he’ll earn a chance at City. He’s a real talent. Problem is, to come into a side as strong as City’s you almost have to be world class before you get any game time. I’d say he’s one who would be better playing his next few years at a club abroad then coming back as he’s not strong enough for the English lower leagues and it’s his technical skill that needs work.

Russ - The perception of him I think is a player who has a huge amount of potential, but just needs more experience to improve his game from the raw talent he has to the finished product. I don't think he is ready for City yet and he might be two seasons away honestly. I think he should play in the Championship once again and I wouldn't mind a return to Fulham. He is not ready for the Barclays Premier League.

His best position? Obvious flaws/strengths? Does he remind you of anyone stylistically?

Chris - He’s an attacking centre mid. We played him a bit on the wing too, but he’s not a winger. Stylistically he very much reminds me of Yaya Toure but without the technical skill. He’s all legs and has a similar running style. He’s got a great engine and is a very positive player, but his actual passing skills aren’t quite there yet.

Russ - He played in central midfield on one side of the diamond and that was a decent place for him. I don't think his best position will be a defensive midfielder as I think his attributes going forward are strong. Eventually he might be best as an attacking midfielder. His flaws are his first and second touch. He has so much speed but the ball gets away from him too easily to control it at times. I can't really put my finger on who he reminds me of but the kid has huge potential, and hopefully he will put it together someday.

There's a sense that maybe he's been a bit too raw for the difficult season Fulham have had, which has been around the bottom half of the table. The championship is a tough league for anyone, never mind a new player making his first steps in the professional leagues. Fair?

Chris - Absolutely fair. Considering he’d never played senior football before he did very well. We were also a poor side and that didn’t help him. Our manager is tactically a bit clueless too so he was in and out the team and rarely played in his best position. All things considered we’d love him back

Russ - That is a fair assessment but I expect Fulham to make a huge push for promotion next season, and he could be an asset in a Fulham side with those aspirations. I think the Championship is a great place for him to improve as a player.

Do you personally think he has a chance? Would you blood him if you were Pellegrini next season - I.e do you think he'd benefit from the exposure of being around our first team? Or another loan move?

Chris - I wouldn’t blood him at City for another year, but he could certainly benefit from being around the first team in pre-season. I think a full season playing for us would do him well, or a top flight loan to say France, Belgium or Germany (a bit like Chelsea have done with Thorgan Hazard). I’d also have him spending as much time with Yaya as possible as that’s his ideal mentor.

Russ - I think he needs to stay in the Championship as he is still too raw, and being on the bench or just around the team I don't think will benefit him enough. He needs to be playing regularly.

Do you think city will utilise the loan link up with Fulham again?

Chris - I hope so.

Russ - I certainly hope so as it could be a win/win for both clubs.

In general this tallies with the few Fulham games I managed to catch this year. A real mixed bag of a player, clear potential - you sense he has something but that he hasn't quite found the keys to the door to unlock that clear latent talent he's got stored away somewhere. Perhaps he's a little rash and overly exuberant too, often wasteful in possession, but they're traits that often come to define the early years of most players, and yet you still feel that at any moment it could click and he could burst into life, run from one box to the other and wallop one in from 30 yards. He does that have ability, a little like Sissoko at Newcastle maybe. Whether that'll come to pass is another thing, but with time on his and ours perhaps another loan or two over the next couple of years to find out would suit all parties involved.

Other loan reviews - Marcos Lopes || Denayer & Guidetti || Jordy Hiwula

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