Fulham have been a curious watch this season.
Two victories from their first 17 games is a dismal tally, but despite their inability to win games, they remain very much in the race to stay in the Premier League.
While they can’t win, they are proving equally difficult to beat.
And a lot of that is down to their goalkeeper, Alphonse Areola, who is steadily starting to deliver on his potential in the Premier League.
The Frenchman caught the eye against Tottenham and Chelsea, both games in which he threw himself from pillar to post to repel shots and keep his team alive. An eventual defeat to Chelsea was just their first in six league games – a run in which Areola faced more shots than any other keeper in the Premier League.
Since arriving on loan from PSG in the summer, the French keeper has been a revelation. The question now is, can they keep him?
The short answer is, well, yes. The club confirmed when they brought him in for the season that they have the option to make the deal permanent – an option that will almost certainly be triggered if they stay in the top flight.
Details on the fee agreed are more scarce, though. The club didn’t confirm that at the time (obviously) and have done a decent enough job of keeping it secret, with reports surrounding the deal at the time not even bothering to guess.
We know that back in 2018, reports in Italy suggested PSG wanted around £30m from Napoli for his services. That was off the back of a season in which he had played almost every game for the French champions, however. He spent the next campaign in and out of the team, and the one after on loan at Real Madrid, where he hardly touched a ball all season.
The asking price then was affected by his contract, however, which was due to expire a year later. He amended that by penning a new deal until 2023. It’s likely, then, that by the summer of 2020, his value had come down…but not by a lot.
Any fee agreed with Fulham was likely around the £25m mark, then. Not a million miles from what Chelsea paid for Edouard Mendy in the summer, and more or less the market price for a good Ligue 1 keeper.
But a snip for a stopper who is single-handedly keeping their promotion hopes alive.