Earlier today, Roma sporting director Franco Baldini confirmed, “I went to London to sell Stekelenburg to Fulham. There were many issues to be resolved. I reached an agreement subject to a number of conditions, like the player’s personal demands and the medical.”
While the deal isn’t DONE, it’s pretty darn close. Roma still need to tie up a replacement, which if you remember is the same issue they had in January that ultimately killed the deal at the transfer window closure (while Stek was in flight to London). They’re looking at young Santos goalkeeper Rafael Cabral, but nothing’s finalized on that front either.
Either way, it looks like this is about a 95% chance to complete, at a price range that speculation has anywhere between £3-£5 million, a bargain either way.
And it couldn’t have come at a better time for Fulham.
There have been mixed reactions by fans on Twitter and on story comments, but it’s a wonderful move by Martin Jol with the present and future in mind.
Stekelenburg is 30 years of age, which by goalkeeper standards is right around the peak. He struggled at Roma, but more due to the manager’s personal preference (a la Casillas and Mourinho) than the keeper himself performing poorly. This means he’s still at the top of his game while also being cheap.
If you remember, Fulham captured Mark Schwarzer himself at the ripe age of 35 and he gave the club five fantastic seasons that showed no signs of his age until the final one.
Speaking of Schwarzer, despite looking slowed by age in the first half of the season, he appeared reinvigorated in the second half and proved to the world he still has some left in the tank. However, would you rather see the Australian, who’s given nothing but his all to the club in the last five years, finish his Fulham career on a high note? Or would you rather Jol ride him out until he falls apart on the pitch? I think the former is much more preferable. Why make him prove to everyone he’s done before making a move for another goalkeeper?
Then there’s the curious case of David Stockdale. Stocko is 27, young in goalkeeper terms but at the age where he should indeed be seeking first team action. He impressed many at Hull in his loan spell and may choose the newly promoted side over the bench at Fulham, and rightly so.
Many fans have pointed to giving Stockdale the first team role as a cheaper and effective option. While this is true, Stockdale is still young and makes mistakes, as we saw in his limited time this season. It would be unfortunate to lose a promising young English player, but people must realize at this club you can’t have your cake and eat it too.
I certainly can’t blame Jol for splashing a little cash towards a keeper who has been the number one option at the world’s number 9-ranked team in the Netherlands?
Stekelenburg is a top option at Fulham for a bargain price at a time that allows our current beloved keeper to leave Craven Cottage on a high rather than peter out at an even older age. What more could we as fans ask for? It’s a perfect chance.