With Fulham’s 1-0 victory over Stoke courtesy of yet another piece of majesty from the right boot of Dimitar Berbatov came a belief among the teams players that perhaps they could start counting the kittens of a potentially safe Premier League season blessed with mid-table mediocrity. At the start of the season any Fulham fan would have taken that.
Part of their success has been a solid and consistent backline with two players in particular featuring regularly. Brede Hangeland has featured in 23 games for the club this season while right-back Sascha Riether has missed just one of the 27 Premier League fixtures.
Both have had decent seasons and that level of consistency looks like being the difference between safety and relegation at the end of the current season.
But currently there is no guarantee that either will be at the club next season.
In Hangeland’s case the 31-year-old captains contract expires in the summer and so far talks to extend that deal have so far been fruitless. Although this week Martin Jol announced that a potential deal was close:
“I think we are close. We will have a few players [signing new deals] in the next couple of weeks. Over the last couple of months Brede has been a tower.”
Considering previous interest in the player from QPR and some of the Premier League’s top teams that news will be welcome to Fulham fans ears.
Riether on the other hand is only on loan at the club and they have the right to exercise a buy-out clause on his current deal. He is on loan from FC Koln who are currently in a battle with Kaiserslautern for third place in 2.Bundesliga and a subsequent promotion play-off match, most likely against Hoffenheim.
Therefore it is likely his future may hinge on the success of Koln in their pursuit of promotion. If however it doesn’t come off by what he said earlier in the month he would seemingly be more than happy to stay at Craven Cottage:
"Nothing is decided yet, Fulham can activate a clause, and I also have to agree. As things stand now, I will return to Cologne in the summer. But I have to consider and talk to both clubs. I wanted to become a starter (at Fulham), and I managed to do that. I am proud I have become a fans' favourite. But of course I can still do better, and that's what I am trying to do. The football here suits me. Moreover, the club is very friendly and I received a warm welcome."
One thing for sure is that Fulham would be wise to tie down the long-term futures of these two players before other Premier League teams decide to rain on their parade.
Do you think Fulham should secure the long-term future of these two before going forward?
image: © Magnus D