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Exclusive: Fulham settle on devastating Mitrovic replacement as Silva sets heart on £25m Nigerian

Fulham are looking into the signing of Gent forward Gift Orban as they look to find a replacement for Aleksandr Mitrovic in the January transfer window.

The Cottagers have been feeling the force of their failure to replace Mitrovic and will seek to rectify the situation in January.

Raul Jimenez, signed from Wolverhampton Wanderers, is yet to find the net in the Premier League and he has lost his starting role to Carlos Vinicius, who is joint-leading scorer this campaign with Bobby Decordova-Reid on just two goals.

Mitrovic is Fulham’s all-time top scorer and bagged 15 goals in 28 games last season. His absence has been noticeable since a transfer to Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Hilal and Fulham are searching for new options.

The club were cautious not to rush into signing a Mitrovic replacement in case they got it wrong but one of the men they considered strongly in the final days of the summer window was Orban of Belgian side Gent.

The Nigeria-born striker was very open to a switch to England, with Tottenham also interested, yet the financial details to open up a possible deal felt too risky.

Gent wanted more than £25million for Orban, 21, and such a fee was deemed to be too high for a player that had just 22 games of experience in Belgian football – following a move from Norwegian side Stabaek in January.

Orban hit 20 goals over that period and has also added six goals so far this term. Fulham are looking again into his availability for January as part of their profiling for a new centre-forward for 2024.

He is shortlisted because of a very measured level of composure in front of goal and displays big confidence in himself around the penalty box. There is a rawness to him; he does not have the same stature as Mitrovic but he does manage to show power, strength and intelligence that gives him an edge.

Orban has struggled to find consistency in Belgium this season and was not included in the latest Nigeria squad, although there are reports that is due to a nationality dispute with Togo.

There is some hope that expectations may have dropped from the £25m price-tag, although sources in Belgium insist the club seem pretty determined to stick to their guns given his huge potential.

Fulham would be building on a Nigerian connection if he was to join, with Calvin Bassey and Alex Iwobi both making moves to West London this year.

There is still a level of interest from Spurs but with Son Heung-min and Richarlison as leading options and up and coming talent in Alejo Veliz and Jamie Donley ready to break through, there is uncertainty over them going in for him again this winter. Spurs also have a keen eye on Stuttgart’s in-form forward Serhou Guirassy.

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