Aleksandar Mitrovic has joined Saudi Arabian side Al Hilal in a club-record deal for Fulham.
Mitrovic was not named in Fulham’s squad for their 3-0 home defeat to Brentford on Saturday, with Fulham boss confirming after the game that the Serbia international was on the verge of sealing a lucrative move to Al Hilal.
A Fulham statement on Saturday evening read: “The club can confirm that Aleksandar Mitrović has this evening left to join Al Hilal in the Saudi Pro League for a club-record transfer fee.
“The club had reluctantly accepted a revised offer as the player had consistently made his desire to leave known.
“Mitrović joined Fulham in January 2018, initially on a loan deal before signing permanently that summer. In his first season, he helped the Whites to a Championship Play-Off Final win, securing promotion to the Premier League, the first of his three promotions to the top division.
“During the club’s 2021/22 Championship title-winning campaign, he scored 43 times to set the record for most goals scored in a 46-game English league season, and equal a club record for most goals scored in one campaign.
“We wish Aleksandar all the best in this next step in his career.”
Silva: He forced everything to leave
In his post-match press conference, Silva said: “He was not in the squad because he did not train with the team – he got injured in the last game.
“About his future, he’s on his way to leave the club. I got information before the match and now the confirmation from the club after the match that he’s on his way to leave the club. Both clubs got an agreement and now is the moment to finish with Mitrovic in our club.
“As you know, he forced everything to leave the club. He wanted to leave the club. Until the moment we had a financial agreement, we kept him in our football club. They have reached an agreement and now is the moment for us to keep playing and working with our team.”
When asked if the process has been disruptive to Fulham’s preparations for the new season, Silva said: “If you ask if that is normal, no. If you ask me that football players should behave in this way, no. That is an easy answer.
“Not just the situation of Mitrovic, our pre-season was not where it should be on many aspects. That will not be an excuse for anything. The Premier League has started, I’m not here to find excuses, just that I would like it to not happen again in the future.
“He forced it, I think all of you know it, many of you reported that. It’s clear what he did and he forced it.
“He knows about my opinion, I told him in private.
Mitrovic’s transfer timeline
- 12 July – Sky Sports News exclusively reveal Aleksandar Mitrovic has told Fulham he wants to move to Al-Hilal, but the club reject a £25.5m bid and insist he’s not for sale.
- 14 July – Al-Hilal try again with an offer close to £30m but Fulham’s stance is unchanged and the bid is rejected. Mitrovic again urges Fulham to consider a sale with a personal plea made to chief executive Tony Khan.
- 19 July – Fulham soften stance by placing £52m valuation on the Serbia striker. SSN learns Mitrovic has told relatives he’ll never play for Fulham again. He threatens not to travel to the USA on the pre-season tour but reluctantly agrees to go after talks that included PFA representatives.
- 22 July – Marco Silva reveals Mitrovic is training away from the squad ahead of their opening Summer Series match and confirms he will not play. SSN understands this is because Mitrovic remains unhappy that the club won’t sell him.
- 5 August – Silva says Mitrovic will be integrated back into the team. The striker fails to follow up on his threat not to play again for the club by featuring in a friendly and in Premier League opener v Everton. SSN understands Silva, who enjoys a good relationship with the player, was key in convincing him to be professional as Al-Hilal continued to push for the move.
- 15 August – Al-Hilal make third offer of over £46m and Fulham are considering it.
- 19 August – Silva tells reporters Mitrovic is missing from the game v Brentford with an ankle injury. Hours later Fulham agree a deal with Al-Hilal worth over £46m, and grant Mitrovic his wishes. He will travel for his medical in the next 24-hours and will sign a three-year contract. Silva confirms Mitrovic will leave the club.
“Football players are human beings as well. All the situation with the market, sometimes their thinking is about all that stuff because it was not just Mitrovic in our football club. The spotlight was on him but it was not just Mitrovic.
“What I want to say to him I already did. We are going to speak tomorrow and in two days’ time because our relationship is there forever.”
Fulham added striker Raul Jimenez earlier this summer, but Silva admitted they will try to find a replacement for Mitrovic, who scored 14 league goals last season to help Fulham finish in the top half of the Premier League.
Silva – who himself rejected a move to Saudi Arabia this summer – said: “Not just replace Mitrovic, unfortunately for me as manager we have four or five players to sign in 15 days. The striker position and striker market is not an easy one. Many clubs are looking for the same. We are going to do our best to do it.
“We have to find the right player to replace him. If not we’re going to face the Premier League with the players we have here.
“If you are going to ask me if we’re going to invest? 100 per cent sure we are. If it’s just in one player? No. We have to invest in more. If we are going to find the right replacement? I’m not sure because the market is not easy.”
Mitrovic joined Fulham, initially on loan in February 2018, before signing permanently for around £25m later that year.
Who will be on the move this summer when the transfer window opens on June 14 and closes at 11pm on September 1 in England and midnight in Scotland?
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