Fulham manager Marco Silva has suggested wantaway stars Aleksandar Mitrovic and Willian will stay at the club this summer.
Both players featured in the Cottagers’ final friendly ahead of the new Premier League season – a 2-1 victory over German side Hoffenheim.
Mitrovic was even given a warm reception from supporters as he made his first appearance at Craven Cottage since reportedly vowing never to play for the club again.
The Serbian striker was keen to end his six-season spell with the London side this summer with a lucrative offer from Saudi Arabia on the table.
Fulham blocked the move, to the fury of the striker, who is said to have told friends and family that he would never play for the Cottagers again.
Manager Silva – who himself turned down a big-money offer to coach in the Saudi Pro League – also insisted Mitrovic would not play again until the striker returned to training with the rest of the squad, having been training away from the main group during most of the club’s pre-season preparations.
But it appears things have been patched up behind the scenes after Mitrovic not only returned to first-team training, but made an appearance on Saturday.
The 28-year-old first played 60 minutes in a behind-closed-doors friendly with Hoffenheim on Friday in his first minutes since the transfer saga.
And he then made his first appearance in front of home fans on Saturday as he played the final 25 minutes of a 2-1 victory over the German side – with Silva fielding two different XIs across the two games.
He was greeted on the pitch with applause from supporters, with the striker acknowledging their welcome with a raised hand and fans then responding with ‘Mitro’ chants’ – earning a clap from the No.9.
Goals from summer signings Calvin Bassey and Raul Jimenez sealed the win for Fulham, with Willian also starting the match despite being subject of another offer from Saudi Arabia.
The Brazilian has already performed two U-turns this summer, having left Fulham at the end of his contract in favour of a move to Nottingham Forest, only to renege on that plan to pen a new deal at Craven Cottage.
Then, just weeks after penning his new terms, two U-turns threatened to become three, as he asked the club to accept an offer from Saudi club Al-Shabab after agreeing personal terms.
But, after both players featured against Hoffenheim, Silva suggested they could stay put for the new Premier League season in a huge boost for his team.
Speaking after the match, Silva said about Mitrovic: “He is ready to play because if he wasn’t ready he would not be on the bench, he would not come on in the second-half.
“It was something that made him think. We are here to support him but to defend the club in every moment as well.”
Asked about Willian, Silva said he has ‘no worries at all’ about his future.
“Willian is a happy player on the pitch,” said the manager. “He’s there to play when the ball [rolls]. I want to see him happy again.
“In my opinion, he is a top, top player, even if he’s 35 soon. Of course, some clubs look at him. He’s our player. I don’t have anything more to [say on that].”
Silva added that he could not 100 per cent guarantee that any of his players will stay while the transfer window is still open, but did insist Fulham are looking to strengthen – ‘not the opposite’.
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