Ones to Watch: Fulham

by profiles three key Cottagers.

Dimitar Berbatov

Arguably the most technically gifted player in the Barclays Premier League and one Sunderland will have to keep an eye on.

Berbatov has 90 goals in his 211 Premier League games and in November 2010 became the first non-Englishman to score five goals in a Premier League game when Manchester United beat Blackburn Rovers 7-1.

Sir Alex Ferguson signed Berbatov for a reported £30miliion from Tottenham Hotspur in 2008 and the Bulgarian went on to become the 50th United player to score 50 goals in all competitions for the Red Devils.

First-team opportunities were limited towards the end of Berbatov’s time at Old Trafford, prompting Fulham to bid for his services.

He made the move to Craven Cottage in the summer of 2012 and has since gone on to make 35 appearances for the Cottagers, scoring 15 goals.

Maarten Stekelenburg

Stekelenburg has been labelled one of the top goalkeepers in Europe and is set to prove quite a coup for the Cottagers after the departure of long-serving stopper Mark Schwarzer.

Dutch international Stekelenburg progressed through Ajax’s famous academy before making his first team debut in 2002.

He established himself as Ajax’s number one keeper by 2005 and two Dutch Eredivisie titles in his time in Amsterdam.

After making 282 appearances for Ajax, Stekelenburg joined Roma in 2011 and quickly established himself in Italy, making 55 appearances in his two seasons at the Stadio Olimpico.

He joined Fulham in June and looks set to start as their number one on the opening day of the campaign.

Stekelenburg has been capped 54 times by his country, the majority of which have come since the retirement of Edwin van der Sar in 2010.

Bryan Ruiz

Skilful forward Bryan Ruiz joined Fulham in 2011 after impressing for FC Twente in the Dutch Eredivisie.

Costa Rica international Ruiz began his career with Alajuelense in his native Costa Rica before moving to Gent in Belgium where he spent three years before moving to Holland.

After scoring 35 goals in 65 league games with Twente, Ruiz made the switch to the Barclays Premier League.

And, after a quiet first year in West London, he was a star performer during the 2013-13 campaign; adding five goals in 31 appearances from midfield.