Martin Jol did it folks. While many fans (including myself) were hootin and hollerin about the lack of activity in the transfer market for Fulham, Jol kept his cool, and he delivered. He went out and got 2 (so far) proven strikers who will absolutely restructure the attack of this club in Bryan Ruiz and André-Pierre Gignac, and added some flanks to the defense in Zdenek Grygera.
Let’s see in how many ways these additions help the club on the checklist of needs. Bring the average age down? Check. Grygera is 31, but Ruiz is 26 and Gignac is 25. Get players who can take pressure off Bobby Zamora? Check. Both strikers are goal hawks who will tandem with Bobby to put the ball in the net. Keep the club’s flexibility? Check. Ruiz can (and certainly will on occasion) move to a winger spot, and has a proven cross as well. Grygera is a natural right back but can effectively play all defensive positions. Add much needed depth to keep everyone healthy and rested? Check. Now we won’t have to see a bench void of an attack altogether, and Grygera may not start all the time but certainly will be the first or second off the bench.
Talk about an effective deadline. And all 3 of those players cost the club a total of £10.6 million, the cost of Bryan Ruiz (plus wages of course). Grygera was a free transfer (released by Juventus) and Gignac, at least for now, is a loan deal. If Gignac is bought the price may increase, but for now, talk about a bargain.
Also, one more thing about the addition of these players: if you think Fulham is good from set pieces right now, think about the future. Already making them dangerous is the 6’4 1/2″ Brede Hangeland, the 6’1″ Clint Dempsey, and the 6′ Bobby Zamora. Now, enter the 6’2″ Bryan Ruiz and the 6’1 1/2″ Gignac, and they have the potential to be lethal.
Here’s a little on both players I haven’t already laid out for you all (I posted on Grygera a few days ago):
Ruiz will almost undoubtedly make an immediate impact with the club. Able to play winger and striker, he was the top goalscorer for Twente last season, netting 24 goals in Eredivisie play. Overall with Twente, since his arrival in 2009 he has 39 goals in 61 competitions. Wow. For £10.6 million, I’ll take that any day for sure.
Ruiz’s 2 years with Twente were just outstanding. At one point in November and December of 2009, he scored in 10 straight matches, and in March of 2010, he scored a hat trick in 4 minutes against Sparta Rotterdam, netting the first in the 46th minute, and the third in the 50th minute.
Twente won their first ever Eredivisie championship in 2010, and in the match they clinched against NAC Breda, Ruiz scored the first goal, and Twente went on to win 2-0.
The Costa Rican has a decent amount of international experience, receiving 43 caps for his country and scoring 9 goals, including a brace in a 2-2 draw with the United States in World Cup qualifying back in 2009.
Bottom line: guy’s a game changer, and at 26, he could be around for a while.
On loan from Marseille comes the second of the new attacking duo, French international André-Pierre Gignac. APG is one of those guys where you look at a picture of him, and you know right away the kid can ball. This will be Gignac’s first foray out of French soccer, so it will be interesting to see how he handles the switch.
The 25 year old began his career with Lorient, netting 11 goals in 51 matches for them between 2004 and 2007 before making a switch to Toulouse. Between 2007 and 2010 with the Ligue 1 side there, he scored 34 goals in 98 matches before he signed a new contract with Marseille, in a transfer reportedly worth between €16–18 million.
His time with Marseille has been up and down, but mostly up besides one rough patch of about 3 months. He has recorded a Champions League hat trick in a group stage match against MSK Zilina, and has also won the Coupe de la Ligue with Marseille in 2011. There was a period of 3 months, like I mentioned, where he did not score a goal, and was heavily criticized for being too predictable. However, he took the criticism in stride, fixed his game, and has been on top of his game ever since. Total for Marseille, he has 8 goals in 30 appearances.
The Daily Mail says his wages are around £60,000 a week.