Alphonse Areola joining Fulham would provide test of Scott Parker’s man-management skills

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Reports in France claim PSG stopper Areola is heading to SW6 on a loan deal. According to RMC Sport, the 27-year-old has undergone a medical ahead of the switch.

If the deal goes through, he will replace back-up Bettinelli in Fulham’s first-team squad but is unlikely to be content with a place on the bench.

Areola was a member of France’s 2018 World Cup-winning squad, enjoyed three seasons as PSG’s first-choice goalkeeper and made nine appearances during a loan spell with Real Madrid last term.

Despite Areola’s undoubted quality, the transfer has sparked an element of concern among some Fulham fans.

The Whites unearthed a gem in their Championship play-off winning campaign as Marek Rodak took Bettinelli’s place in the team and went on to finish second in the club’s player of the year vote.

The 23-year-old was hugely impressive – despite being sent off in his second appearance – and the trajectory of his career shows that he is capable of stepping up to the next level.

While the lack of a top-quality rival could hinder Rodak’s development, Parker is likely to have the challenge of having two goalkeepers thinking they deserve the shirt.

Fulham’s last spell in the Premier League saw three different goalkeepers take the gloves.

Fabri was given just two games to prove his worth before being replaced by Bettinelli, who was then usurped by Sergio Rico from the 10th match of the season onwards.

It was a shambles, so conceding 81 goals in 38 league games was hardly surprising, especially with a defence constantly being chopped and changed.

The upheaval caused by so many new players arriving in the summer transfer window has been cited as one of the reasons for Fulham’s nightmare 2018/19 campaign.

The Whites are eager to avoid repeating the mistakes of two summers previous but any new signing at any club poses a challenge in terms of settling into the dressing room, accepting their place in the squad and knuckling down.

And it is Areola’s likely arrival that could provide the key test of Parker’s man-management skills.

The 39-year-old healed the wounds caused by the club’s farcical drop to the Championship and is clearly respected by the squad, who threw him in the air after the play-off final win over Brentford.

But trying to keep two goalkeepers happy in the toughest league in the world is a challenge laced with risk and reward.

Rodak, quite simply, deserves a chance to stake his claim. It is the least he deserves after such an impressive 2019/20 campaign.

Either way, the Slovakia international should be inspired by Areola’s arrival to continue his development, while the Frenchman should be determined to do his best to win that role and showcase his talents to permanent suitors ahead of next summer.

It seems absurd to brand the signing of a top-class goalkeeper a gamble – but it is, yet it’s one that could pay off if Parker continues to prove he’s got the Midas touch.


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