Tottenham Hotspur are exploring a deal for Manor Solomon, after a FIFA ruling confirmed that he will be able to leave Shakhtar Donetsk on a free transfer this summer.
The Israeli winger, who has been playing for Fulham on a 12-month deal after suspending his contract at Shakhtar last year, will leave the Ukrainian club this summer following the ruling, which was confirmed on Monday.
Fulham would like to secure him to a permanent deal and Tottenham are at the front of the queue if he does leave Craven Cottage, although no decision has been taken yet, and he will have other offers.
Solomon’s Shakhtar contract expires on December 31, 2023, and the 23-year-old was due to return to Ukraine in the summer after his temporary stay at Fulham.
However, FIFA ruled on Monday that all foreign players based in Ukraine or Russia will be able to suspend their contracts again for a further year, which Solomon intends to do. Once his contract is suspended, his agreement with the Ukrainian club will lapse at the end of the year and he will therefore be able to sign for a new club for no fee.
FIFA first made the temporary ruling in March 2022, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This was extended in June last year for a further 12 months, and has now been extended again. Shakhtar said on Wednesday that this decision means the club “stands to lose up to €80million in possible transfer fees”, a decision that “threaten(ed) our very existence”.
In a statement, FIFA said: “In order to protect foreign players and coaches who have left the territory of Ukraine or Russia due to the conflict and who do not wish to currently return in view of the circumstances, those players and coaches will have the right to unilaterally suspend their employment contracts with clubs affiliated to the Ukrainian Association of Football (UAF) or the Football Union of Russia (FUR) until 30 June 2024, provided that the clubs are duly informed of the suspension in writing by 1 July 2023.”
Solomon’s availability has alerted clubs across Europe. Tottenham are currently leading the chase and are working on a permanent deal. If he arrived he could be the first signing of the summer for Spurs, as they try to re-energise the squad after a difficult season. Although no deal has been completed yet and Spurs are set to face competition from across Europe.
Manor Solomon: ‘I have been waiting for this moment for a long time’
Fulham nearly signed Solomon on a permanent deal last summer. The club came close to agreeing a €7.5million ($7.6m, £6.4m) fee for his transfer, according to Shakhtar chief executive Sergei Palkin, however after FIFA’s ruling was extended last year, the permanent deal was not finalised and Fulham instead signed Solomon on a one-year ‘free loan’ instead. Shakhtar sought damages from FIFA at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but were unsuccessful.
Shakhtar CEO Palkin said on Wednesday that Shakhtar “will continue” their legal case with FIFA, having submitted a complaint to the European Commission as well as preparing an appeal to the Swiss Federal Court.
Palkin also criticised FIFA’s decision to allow Ukraine-based foreign players to suspend their contracts last year. “Many international players then left the Club on free transfers,” he said. “The over-reaching measures applied by FIFA led to massive loss of player transfer income and a depletion of essential Club revenues. We believe the extension of Annex 7 continues to place clubs like FC Shakhtar in Ukraine in a seriously disadvantaged position with zero protection and threatens our very existence.”
Solomon has made an impression at Fulham, despite a difficult first season in the Premier League. He made his debut from the substitutes’ bench against Liverpool on the opening day of the season, only to suffer a knee injury the following day in a behind-closed-doors friendly.
He returned after the World Cup and made an eye-catching impact. Scoring in five consecutive matches across February and March. Three of those goals came as a substitute and his three successive strikes in the Premier League saw him become the first Israeli to score in as many consecutive Premier League games since Ronnie Rosenthal for Liverpool in 1992. He would make four Premier League starts in total, amid competition from Willian, and his overall return has been five goals from 23 matches in all competitions.
In March, Fulham boss Marco Silva admitted that Fulham would need to be ready to fend off competition to sign Solomon on a permanent basis in the summer.
“We have to be ready, not to lose him, but we have to be ready for the competition in the market if it appears,” said Silva.
“It was a decision we made as a club. Now we have to be ready to face it. Simple as that. In that moment we tried to sign him permanently. For many reasons, which is not important to talk about now, it was not possible.
“It can’t be a drama for us. We knew from the first day what can happen. We tried. I tried my best to sign him permanently in that moment. And now, it is what it is.”
Tottenham conclude their 2022-23 campaign against Leeds on Sunday while Fulham travel to Manchester United.
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(Photo: Getty Images)