Why Fulham re-signing Terence Kongolo is a smart move
The 26-year-old has joined the West London outfit on a four-year deal until 2024 for an undisclosed fee from Huddersfield Town, with Fulham reserving the option to extend his stay by a further 12 months. (h/t Fulham FC)
Kongolo spent the second half of last season on loan at Fulham but his temporary spell at the English capital was cut short by an unfortunate foot injury.
Born in Switzerland, Terence Kongolo rose through the youth ranks of Feyenoord and made his professional debut in the Eredivisie during the 2011-12 season. He gradually established himself as one of the best young defenders in the Netherlands over the next two campaigns, with his impressive rise earning him a place in the Dutch national team at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Kongolo was a part of the Dutch side that finished third at the World Cup and eventually led Feyenoord to KNVB Cup and Eredivisie Cup successes before departing for Monaco in 2017. Having enjoyed his first taste of Champions League football with the French outfit, the 26-year-old joined Huddersfield Town on loan in January 2018.
The Dutch international put in a series of top-notch displays towards the back end of the 2017-18 campaign to steer Huddersfield to safety in the Premier League. Kongolo’s telling contribution prompted the Terriers to make him their club-record signing for £18million but the centre-back couldn’t save them from relegation in the following campaign.
Kongolo found himself out of favour at Huddersfield following the club’s relegation back down to the Championship and has now left the club after making 60 appearances in all competitions.
Kongolo brings more experience and quality to Fulham’s defence
Fulham have endured a nightmarish start to life back in the top-flight, losing all of their four opening fixtures in the Premier League so far. Scott Parker’s side have scored just thrice while conceding as many as 11 goals in the process, thus clearly epitomising the need for some significant improvement at both ends of the pitch moving forward.
The Cottagers have found their backline shred to pieces more often than not, with the club’s defensive woes reminiscent of their ignominious 2018-19 relegation campaign in the top-flight. Fulham conceded 81 goals back then and finished second-bottom, and they could suffer the same fate this time around if Parker doesn’t manage to stop the rut.
Fulham roped in Joachim Andersen on loan from Lyon and Tosin Adarabioyo on a permanent deal from Manchester City in a bid to add more quality to central defence. And the acquisition of Terence Kongolo on domestic deadline day comes as yet another massive boost to the club’s ailing backline.
The 26-year-old’s loan spell at Craven Cottage last season came to a premature end due to an injury but he is back to full fitness now. Kongolo comes through the door as a quality defender with Premier League experience, while his versatility to slot into the left-back role could be an added asset as well.
Fulham’s decision to bring in Terence Kongolo even after concluding deals for Andersen and Adarabioyo is a clear indication that the management has been left frustrated to a great degree by the ineptness of the current stock of centre-backs.
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Parker now has the opportunity to move away from the ageing legs of Tim Ream, Dennis Odoi, and Maxime Le Marchand and build a hungry new-look backline with Kongolo, Andersen, and Adarabioyo in his plans moving forward. Kongolo hasn’t always been the most consistent defender but his quality certainly can’t be called into question.
The Dutchman could well play a key role in Fulham’s bid for survival if Parker manages to extract the best out of him by teaming him up with the right set of players at the back.