According to The Sun, Fulham are eyeing a winter move for Preston North End midfielder Ben Whiteman as boss Marco Silva looks to bolster his side’s midfield options this month.
Fulham have enjoyed a fantastic first half of their Premier League campaign, currently sitting in sixth place in the Premier League table after winning nine of their first 20 matches. Despite this, manager Marco Silva is looking to bring in several new faces this month as he looks to secure his team’s unprecedented spot in the European berths.
Central midfield remains an area of desperate need, with a defensive-minded player to play as a backup to Harrison Reed or Joao Palhinha a priority for the Cottagers. The standout performances from Reed and Palhinha in the middle of the park have really shone through, but there is no one behind them to fill in if they are suspended or injured, which is a real concern for the Premier League’s overachievers.
As such, Fulham have recently been linked with a potential swoop for Everton’s out-of-favour midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure, but reports have suggested talks over that move have hit a roadblock, and their chances of getting their hands on the Malian destroyer this month look slim.
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However, another surprise alternative on their shortlist is Preston North End’s versatile midfielder Benjamin Whiteman, who is turning many heads with his strong performances in the second tier of English football.
The 26-year-old arrived at North End from Doncaster Rovers for a fee of around £1.5 million two years ago. Since then, he has gone on to make 97 appearances for the Deepdale outfit, scoring seven times in the process.
When comparing Fulham’s existing midfield options to Whiteman, it appears that he would be an excellent fit at Craven Cottage. In Silva’s fast-paced counter-attacking system, the midfielders need to be decent defensively but also have the eye for a forward pass, and Whiteman can be efficient at both ends of the pitch.
He operates as the deepest midfielder in a three under Ryan Lowe at Preston, which means he has the capacity to make a good volume of tackles, and interceptions, but can also bomb forward after recovering the ball and strike a ball if needed.
While the Championship outfit would surely expect a tidy profit if he were to move on, he has only 18 months remaining on his contract. That puts Preston in a tricky position should Fulham come in for Whiteman’s services.
Fulham would view Whiteman as a low-cost alternative to their problems, one who could provide competition and depth to their options in the middle of the park. At the age of 26, the gifted midfielder is well-versed and in his peak years, which means he could come in and hit the ground running with little to no adaptation time that would be required if the Whites were to make an overseas acquisition.