Deadline-day transfers are usually met with a level of skepticism owing to the accompanying panic-buy price tag. However, when a club opts to smash their transfer record on the final day of the window, the average critic is inclined to believe the necessary due diligence was undertaken before the splurge.
Nonetheless, there were doubts when Fulham opted to sign Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa for £30 million in the closing stages of last year’s summer window, given he’d only just played his first breakthrough season in 2017/18 with Olympique de Marseille.
It was their 15th signing of the window and Slavisa Jokanovic faced the uphill task of getting his side to play with the required synergy in a short space of time.
Another top signing for the Cottagers was Jean Michael Seri. The deep-lying playmaker arrived from another French side, OGC Nice after impressing over a couple of seasons.
At the time it seemed a coup, given how highly rated he was, while taking into consideration a plethora of top guns had been linked with him previously.
In 2017, Barcelona legend Xavi spoke glowingly about Seri when Los Cules were reportedly interested in acquiring the midfield controller , labeling him as “having Barca’s DNA.”
“When I was told that a Nice player was nicknamed the ‘African Xavi’, I followed him very closely,” the legendary Spaniard began. “I watched matches and a ton of videos.
"I didn’t know him... and I was spellbound: I’m not used to seeing such a talent in midfield. Short passing, long passing, tactical intelligence, distance shooting, personality, organizing play, that last magic pass... ‘madre mia!’
“He would do very well at Barca, he can play anywhere in the middle," Xavi continued. "Seri is fantastic.
"I can say, without hesitation, that he has what we call ‘Barca DNA’.”
Glowing praise indeed!
However, both moves turned out to be monumental disasters, with neither player finding his feet in West London.
The entire side often looked shambolic and out of touch with each other, with several players appearing to be rabbits in headlights.
Their constant defensive mistakes typified their mediocre season, while they didn’t fare better going forward either.
With the side looking extremely disjointed, critics constantly rehashed the Londoners’ decision to splurge on so many players in the summer.
It wasn’t criticism in hindsight either, owing to the fact that many people had misgivings about their transfer activity after gaining promotion.
The West London club made a glut of signings, thereafter sidelining several stars that had helped secure their playoff win over Aston Villa in May 2018.
Zambo Anguissa and Seri suffered their fair share of criticism too, mainly because of their hefty transfer fees. After a bad game against Huddersfield Town in November, the former was mocked by fans of his former club Marseille, who saw the funny side of supposedly fleecing Fulham.
Seri, on the other hand, was ridiculed for failing to justify the effusive praise he’d been showered with before moving to England.
It didn’t help that Fulham panicked by sacking the guy who’d overseen their return to the big time in November.
Claudio Ranieri replaced the departed Jokanovic but results remained mixed.
Scott Parker was to come in for the jettisoned Italian in the closing weeks of the campaign before relegation was sealed after one season back in the top flight.
For the pair of Anguissa and Seri, the upheaval in the dugout summed up a miserable and muddled first year in England.
The changes were unsettling too, with players needing to learn new tactical schemes throughout the season.
The African duo had been signed by Jokanovic for a purpose - and while they may have struggled even when the Serbian was in charge, one suspects he had a plan in mind for the pair - but that was defeated with the change in strategy.
It remains to be seen if Parker will discard the high-earning pair this summer or take the risk of retaining them for the fight to secure instant promotion.
After one year in England, they’ll be more acclimatized now and are likely to fare better in their second year at the club, albeit in the hurly-burly of the Championship.
There’s also the fear that failing to cash in on them now could see their stock plummet even further if their promotion push doesn’t turn out as expected.
The Championship is a different kettle of fish, and failure to adapt to a difficult division could leave Parker stuck with unwanted players on high wages while playing second-tier football.
Be that as it may, it’s a risk they have to take, as it may be a bit too reactionary to pull the plug on their time in England after a sole season.
Anguissa is expected to feature prominently in Clarence Seedorf’s Cameroon team as they seek to retain a title they won in Gabon two years ago. Not part of the side that secured a fifth African crown, he’ll be making his Afcon debut for the Indomitable Lions.
Seri is also likely to star in Ibrahim Kamara’s Ivory Coast midfield as they aim to do better than 2017’s group-stage exit.
After so much promise, last season represented disappointing years for the midfielders at Fulham.
Nevertheless, sparkling displays at the Nations Cup finals could prompt a revival in the pairs’ fortunes as they attempt to find a bit of light and hope after enduring forgettable individual seasons in West London.