Saturday, 14 January 2017

Lowdown on Chris Martin saga

Let's start today. Chris Martin made his first start for Fulham in more than two weeks in the Championship game against Barnsley, scoring the first goal and setting up the second in a 2-0 win.

Afterwards, manager Slavisa Jokanovic said the striker was staying at Craven Cottage until the end of the season, and this is almost certainly the case.

The Scotland international joined the Cottagers on a one-season loan just two minutes before the summer transfer window closed on 31st August, for a fee of more than £1.5million. Hefty.

His parent club, Derby, would have to stump up a significant amount of cash to get him back, and, basically, they're not willing to do that.

They signed David Nugent last week after trying, unsuccessfully, to land Jordan Rhodes from Middlesbrough.

So how did we get to this position? Jokanovic revealed that Martin had refused to play in the game against Reading on 30th December because he wanted to return early to Derby.

In actual fact, the striker, who's Fulham's top scorer this season, claimed he couldn't play because of a hamstring injury, yet a scan earlier this week revealed that there was no such problem and he was cleared to face Barnsley.

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If we rewind to August 31st, Fulham were desperately in need of a striker. Ross McCormack had gone to Aston Villa and Moussa Dembele had departed for Celtic.

That left the club with just one recognised striker, so they turned to Martin. To their surprise, new Rams boss Nigel Pearson was willing to let him go, for a chunky £1.5million + loan fee with the option to sign permanently. His salary was increased from £14k a week to £17k.

Fast forward to the end of 2016. Steve McClaren, a long-term admirer of the striker following their previous time working together at Pride Park, was back in charge of Derby and keen for Martin to return.

Martin's agent, Alex Levack, believed his client was in a win-win position now, so he went to Fulham and asked for a permanent deal on a salary of £28k a week. The Cottagers declined - and they also turned down a later request from Derby to bring Martin back, so the two-week impasse began.

Today's game would seem to be the end of all that. Derby now have Nugent and they don't want to pay to break Martin's loan contract at Fulham. Don't be surprised if he goes back to Derby in the summer and is sold on elsewhere...