Two big departures to discuss, Zat Knight moving to Aston Villa for £3.5m rising to £4m and Papa Bouba Diop moving to Portsmouth for an undisclosed fee rumoured to be around £2.5m.
Papa had been immense for us in that first season, and certainly did himself no harm with those pile driver goals he scored against Ch*ls** and Man United. However, following the 2006 African Nation's Cup he was injured and never quite regained his potency. To add insult to injury having recovered from that initial ANC injury he played one game for us before flying out for a friendly and getting injured again. Had Coleman stayed I'm sure he would have been looking to offload "The Wardrobe" as well, although the performances he put in under Sanchez at the end of last season suggested maybe he had re-found his form. Something happened over the summer though, and it was clear during the friendlies that Papa was out-of-favour again. Smertin was back and playing well and the big man was reduced to the odd substitute appearance. With the ANC due again in 2008 I think it was a good time to move him on, he is capable of being a commanding midfielder but I fear those games come too few and far between.
Zat was only about 18 months away from completing 10 years with the club and that in itself is something worth noting in today's transfer market. Having been signed by Keegan for 30 tracksuits, he eventually reached the first team under Jean Tigana. Coleman made him a first choice regular, and it seemed early on that even Sanchez could see something worth keeping. Zat's made more than his fair share of bad decisions, both on and off the football pitch, but I still think he was a useful defender who just needed an experienced head alongside him to point him in the right direction and ensure he kept his mind focused on the job at hand. He was the first Fulham player to make a full England appearance since George Cohen (Sean Davis made the squad but never played) and made 167 (+14) appearances in which he scored 4 times. I really wish him all the best at Aston Villa and in scoring the first goal and keeping a clean sheet, as Villa beat Ch*ls** 2-0 at the weekend, I think Zat has found the perfect way to say thank you and so long to all Fulham fans.