In what proved to be a hectic last few days of the January transfer window, Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen bolstered his side’s ailing attack by acquiring the prolific Kostas Mitroglou from Greek outfit Olympiakos. The 25-year-old arrives at Craven Cottage on a four-and-a-half year contract, with the Londoners shelling out a club record £11m fee for his services:
Mitroglou joins fellow new arrivals Lewis Holtby, Johnny Heitinga, Larnell Cole and Ryan Tunnicliffe as Meulensteen adds to the Cottagers’ ranks in his bid to steer the club to safety. Speaking to the Fulham official website upon completion of the deal, the new frontman went on to say:
“I’m very happy that I’m here in the Premier League, and especially with Fulham which is a major club in the league. I’m here because I want to fulfil the club’s targets and I want to help the club achieve their goals. I was really flattered that they wanted me so badly and I’m really happy to be here. I’m really happy that I will work with René Meulensteen. I know that he has a lot of experience in football. He explained to me how he works and I am really looking forward to working with him. I also spoke to Giorgos [Karagounis] before I came here and he told me only the best things about Fulham.”
Having moved to Germany as a youngster, Mitroglou excelled in the youth ranks at MSV Duisburg and Borussia Monchengladbach before returning to his native country in 2007 to sign for Olympiakos. The six-foot-two forward struggled to make a real impression in his first few season at the club, though – Mitroglou was mainly a peripheral figure, producing 12 goals and seven assists over 55 games in four-and-a-half seasons before a loan move to Panionios in January 2011 afforded him the chance to flourish, with eight goals and an assist from 11 appearances in the Greek top-flight.
In spite of his scoring exploits, Mitroglou was loaned out once again the following season. This time around, he spent the entire campaign with Atromitos and, after notching 16 times in 28 appearances, was voted the Greek Footballer of the Year for 2011/12.
The following season, Mitroglou was retained by his parent club and racked up 11 goals and four assists from 25 league matches – all the more impressive given that 15 of those appearances arrived as a substitute. This term, finally installed as the main man up top, Mitroglou ran riot and notched 14 times in just 12 league games – he also fired a hat-trick against Anderlecht in the Champions League, taking his career tally to nine goals and two assists in 21 appearances in the competition. On the international stage, he’s returned 21 goals and a pair of assists in 49 matches for Greece, scoring three times in the recent World Cup play-off win over Romania, which ensured his nation’s passage to this summer’s tournament in Brazil.
There’s no doubt the Greek’s acquisition is a real coup for the Cottagers, with many European clubs – including Arsenal – previously linked with a move for his services. Whilst he’s expectedly strong in the air for his height, he’s more than just a typical target man – the 25-year-old is fast, agile and possesses a strong work ethic, with a rasping shot making him more than capable from set-piece scenarios outside the area.
With Dimitar Berbatov and Bryan Ruiz both leaving on loan deals until the end of the season, there’s no question Mitroglou will be Meulensteen’s lone striker. Bearing in mind that Darren Bent has netted twice and Steve Sidwell is the club’s top scorer with five league goals to his name, Fulham are in desperate need for a proven marksman to boost their survival bid.
Setting you back 6.5 in Fantasy Premier League (8.0 in the Sky Sports game and 3.0 in the Sun Dream Team), Mitroglou has been favourably priced across the Fantasy games, in spite of his recent scoring endeavours. Whilst cost and game time are on his side, Fulham’s form and fixtures are very much against the Greek. Mitroglou looks poised to make his debut this weekend after his registration arrived too late to allow him to play against Southampton last Saturday – the downside is he rolls up to Old Trafford on Sunday and also has showdowns with Liverpool and Chelsea in the next four Gameweeks.
Last night’s FA Cup defeat at the hands of Sheffield United took Meulensteen’s record to nine losses in 15 matches in charge – the type of form that will surely persuade Fantasy managers to steer well clear of their assets. With the likes of Jay Rodriguez available for a similar price ahead of Southampton’s kind upcoming schedule, Mitroglou will need to adapt to his new surroundings immediately in order to turn our attentions his way but, with Everton and City also on his agenda in the next eight, it seems wise to afford him the time to settle and perhaps reconsider him around the Gameweek 33 mark, when the schedule smiles a little kinder.