Fulham have beaten off competition from several European clubs to sign the Nice and Ivory Coast midfielder Jean Michaël Seri for a club-record fee in the region of £25m, on an initial four-year contract.
The deal represents a coup for Slavisa Jokanovic, the Fulham head coach, given Chelsea, West Ham United, Borussia Dortmund and Napoli, among others, were also credited with an interest in the Ivory Coast international. But, Fulham moved quickly to make Seri, the 26-year-old midfielder, their maiden summer signing following promotion to the Premier League.
“He’s been at the very top of our target list for a long time,” said Tony Khan, the Fulham sporting director. “This is a big day for Fulham.”
Seri has signed a four-year deal at Craven Cottage until 2022, subject to international clearance and obtaining a work permit, while the club have the option to activate a 12-month extension clause in his contract.
“It was a long day yesterday [Wednesday] so it was great to get the move finalised,” Seri said. “Now, I’m ready to get started and looking forward to meeting the squad and getting to know them, the head coach and his staff better. I’m delighted to be here, it’s a new adventure that starts for me and I’m hoping it will all go well.”
His first taste of English football could be as early as Saturday, in a pre-season friendly against Reading, before a swift return to France, as Fulham head off to their training camp in Évian-les-Bains, where they will play Lyon.
Le Marchand, who can play at centre-back and left-back, added: “I’m very happy to sign for Fulham, this is a big club that’s very popular. I’m also happy to have joined up with a good friend, Jean Michaël Seri. I know that there is a lot of hard work ahead and I hope to bring my very best to this team.”
Meanwhile, Newcastle United have re-signed the Chelsea winger Kenedy on a season-long loan. The 22-year-old midfielder, who spent last season on loan at St James’ Park, has joined up with his team-mates at their pre-season training camp in Ireland to hand manager Rafael Benítez a significant boost.
“I’m really pleased to have Kenedy back with us,” Benítez. “I’m sure every fan will be happy with this signing. “Hopefully he can keep playing at the same level that he reached with us last season. I wish him all the best.”