Tim Ream's transfer from Bolton Wanderers to Fulham was reported to be all-but-completed last weekend, with Bolton head coach Neil Lennon anxious to move on and sign new players. But it wasn't until Thursday, August 20, that we finally received confirmation of the player's transfer to the London club. He has signed a four-year contract with the option of a further one-year extension.
The fee involved is officially "undisclosed", but The Bolton News reports Fulham has paid an initial GBP 1.75 million and GBP 500,000 will be due if Ream's performance for his new club meets unspecified targets. That puts the total potential value of the transfer at GBP 2.25 million: close to the GBP 2.3 million it is reported Bolton paid the New York Red Bulls for Ream back in 2012. RBNY's 2010 Defender of the Year left MLS valued at approximately $3.6 million, and it would appear he has held his market value over three-and-a-half seasons with Bolton.
In an extensive chat with Joe Prince-Wright for NBC Sports' ProSoccerTalk, Ream said he chose Fulham over Queens Park Rangers (the team he was supposed to be imminently joining before he was supposed to be imminently joining the Cottagers - it has been a fast and furious spin on the rumor mill for Ream over the past few weeks) because of the club's history of nurturing the careers of American players in England.
The biggest thing was that the guys who have come before me. The American guys. [Brian] McBride. [Carlos] Bocanegra. Clint Dempsey. Eddie Lewis. Kasey Keller. All of those guys, seeing how well they’ve done at this club and seeing the type of history they have created, it seemed like the right fit. Walking into the training ground, it just felt right.
His agent, Global Premier Management's Patrick McCabe confirmed it was the player's feelings that tipped the balance in favor of Fulham over QPR:
Chris [Ramsey] and Les [Ferdinand] were eager to have him at QPR but Tim made his preference known and a deal was struck.
The deal is good news for both Bolton and Fulham. The former has been signing new players to try to break out of a season-opening slump that has seen the Trotters bounced out of the League Cup by lower division opposition (Burton Albion) and pick up just one point from their opening three games in the Championship. Of even greater concern than three losses and a draw from four matches, perhaps: Bolton has yet to score a goal in a competitive game this season.
Since Ream's move was deemed inevitable at the weekend, Bolton has loaned Wellington Silva - a 22-year-old winger - from Arsenal and signed 29-year-old full back Francesco Pisano (formerly of Cagliari) on a free transfer. There are also rumors linking the Trotters to Algerian 'keeper and Philadelphia Union cast-off Rais M'Bolhi. And the combination of Ream's transfer and a injury to Dean Moxey has created depth issues at left back which head coach Neil Lennon has said may be filled by Jose Manuel Casado.
Fulham has also started the season in dispiriting form: one point from three league outings and just a 1-0 win over League Two's Wycombe Wanderers in the League Cup to celebrate. The club's response, at least in part, has been to attempt to rekindle its "FulhAmerica" heyday, when the team was rarely without an American starter during a 12-year stint in England's Premier League. Earlier this month, Fulham signed Luca de la Torre - a US U-17 international - to a pro contract. The club may lose Emerson Hyndman, one of the stars of the US U-20s' World Cup run, but is currently rumored to be chasing Gedion Zelalem, another young American who showed well for his country in New Zealand.
And, of course, it now has Tim Ream, who will be hoping to contribute to a turnaround in Fulham's fortunes as he seeks to boost his own chances of becoming a regular USMNT starter in time for the 2018 World Cup.