The right back position is one Fulham haven’t really had figured out since the 2008-09 season. Last season Stephen Kelly led the team with 21 starts at the position. Chris Baird led 2010-11 with just 16 starts. John Paintsil, making 37 starts in 2008-09, had just 21 in 2009-10.
In fact, since 2001, only 4 players have made 30 or more appearances (which equates to a little over 75% of the season) at right back: Finnan 01/02; Volz 03/04, 04/05; Rosenior 06/07, Paintsil 08/09.
Perhaps this is the same for most other clubs of our stature, but if there is a moment to change this trajectory and a player to do that, I don’t know how we could look past French national and Lille’s Matheiu Debuchy. If consistency is what we desire, how’s this: he has only ever played for Lille and made 218 appearances since 2003. Although he turns 27 next month, he is a little less than two years younger than Stephen Kelly.
Yet, according to Lille coach Rudi Garcia, Debuchy “plays high and attacks but defensively is also very rigorous and he exudes confidence”. I think I like the sound of that, as would Martin Jol (remember how many marauding runs Kelly made toward the end of last season?). He was also named to the Ligue 1 UNFP Team of the Year last season.
Sure, the fella got hosed on Saturday against Spain when French manager Laurent Blanc moved him up from right back to right midfield. But imagine for a moment if Fulham, against say City, decided to play Kelly or Baird at right midfield. It would be a disaster, as it was for France.
Allegedly, Lille rejected a £4 million bid from Newcastle last week (the same amount also allegedly bid in January; hmmm), which if true is a laughably small fee. I’d hate to see my favorite French team be dismantled further as they attempt another Champions League run, but it’s not a stretch to say Debuchy deserves a shot at a top notch league.
And we could really use a bona fide starter at right back.