Chelsea's Broja joins Fulham on loan


Fulham have been successful in their long pursuit of Chelsea’s Armando Broja after landing the striker on a half-season loan on Deadline Day.

The Cottagers have been interested in the 22-year-old for much of January but talks appeared to stall over Chelsea’s demand for a £5m loan fee, until a breakthrough was found in the final hours of the transfer window.

That amount has now been lowered to a maximum of £4m, dependent on performance and appearances for Fulham in the second half of the season.

Speaking to FFCtv, the Albania international said: “It feels amazing. I’m really happy to be here and I can’t wait to get started, meet the players and manager and play for the fans.

“The fans always play a big role and I can’t wait to go to Craven Cottage and meet them all. I’m going to work hard for the team and create a real bond.

“I’m really honoured and excited to be here.”

Broja’s solitary Premier League goal this season came at Craven Cottage in October, though he did score six times in 32 games during a loan spell at Southampton in 2021/22.

Marco Silva’s need for a striker has been apparent in recent weeks. His side have scored just two goals in their last six Premier League games – both coming in a shock 2-1 win over Arsenal on December 31 – and failed to find the net again against Everton in midweek despite registering 25 shots.

Their need for more firepower became more urgent after Raul Jimenez was forced off in that game, with what Silva later revealed was a hamstring injury.

Fulham lost last season’s top goalscorer Aleksandar Mitrovic to Saudi Pro League side Al Hilal in the summer – and have failed to replace his attacking threat, with Jimenez leading the way with only five so far.

“From last summer, even with Raul in our squad we sold [Mitrovic] for a big amount of money and were not able to replace him last summer,” Silva said on Thursday morning, ahead of Broja’s move. “Until now we have not been able to sign another one. That’s the reality.

“It’s not just because Raul got injured that it’s more important to sign one, it was important last summer and at the beginning of the window.”

Analysis: Broja a rough diamond with huge potential

Armando Broja celebrates after heading Chelsea into the lead against Preston
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Armando Broja enjoyed a successful season on loan at Southampton in 2021-22

Sky Sports‘ Laura Hunter:

Armando Broja is still a little rough around the edges but has bags of potential, and hugely impressed at both Vitesse and Southampton during previous loan spells away from Chelsea.

Saints were so taken with Broja’s impact during the 2021-22 season they launched a series of bids to try to sign him permanently. Chelsea valued him around the £30m mark, and that priced Southampton out, but they were nonetheless keen.

Broja is a confidence player. He needs nurturing, and a steady influence to be a guiding force. Perhaps Chelsea – at this point in their difficult transition and evolution under Mauricio Pochettino – can’t offer that.

Besides, Pochettino has his hands full with Nicolas Jackson and Christopher Nkunku – two forwards who themselves are far from the finished article.

Broja has all the attributes necessary to be a successful Premier League striker: physicality, pace, clever movement and good finishing. He just needs the right opportunity, at the right club, to show it.

How do Jimenez and Broja compare?

Sky Sports’ Adam Smith:

Jimenez has led the line for Fulham this season and will now face competition from Broja when he returns from injury – but how do the strikers compare?

Jimenez edges his new team-mate for strike rate across their entire Premier League careers with 0.34 goals per 90 minutes, compared with Broja’s 0.26. The Mexico international also records better ratios for expected goals, shots and converting big chances.

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However, at just 22 years old, Broja offers a greater level of agility and pressing capacity, while Jimenez, now 32, has also been less prolific in front of goal since suffering a serious head injury for Wolves in 2020.

The goal maps below reveal Broja almost exclusively scores between the six and 18-yard lines in the opposition box, while Jimenez, who has far more experience in the Premier League, typically scores from within the central band in the box.

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In terms of positioning, Broja has registered a higher proportion of activity in the opposition penalty area than Jimenez this term and can also operate down the left flank.

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