Fulham have captured the signing of promising Arsenal youngster Thomas Eisfeld, who exits the Emirates after two-and-a-half years at the club.
The Gunners' Twitter account broke the news of Eisfeld's exit:
Fulham's official website provided extra details shortly after the announcement, confirming Eisfeld "has signed a two-year deal with an option for a further 12 months that will see the player remain at the Club until at least the summer of 2016."
Arsenal's website reveals an "undisclosed fee," saying: "Everyone at the club would like to thank Thomas for his contribution and to wish him well for the future."
Signed from Borussia Dortmund in 2012, Eisfeld initially looked to be working toward a bright future with Arsene Wenger's side. He impressed during his debut on Oct. 30, 2012, helping Arsenal to a memorable 7-5 win over Reading in the League Cup, a match which also saw fellow German Serge Gnabry take on a prominent role.
It took almost a year for his second senior appearance to arrive. Eisfeld scored a vital equaliser during the club's Capital One Cup win over West Brom on Sept. 25, 2013, but he rarely threatened to break into the starting lineup at Premier League or European level. He performed well on preseason tours of Asia in 2012 and 2013, scoring three times.
Wenger likened the player to Gunners legend Robert Pires after his goal against the Baggies, as reported by Jack Wilson of the Daily Star:
He is a Pires type. He appears to be in the box without being noisy and appearing suddenly. When he is there, he finishes well. Thomas has that kind of quality that some midfielders have—not many. They have the timing to get in dangerous situations.
The playmaker appears to have succumbed to Arsenal's willingness to spend increasing amounts on top stars. Alexis Sanchez recently joined the likes of Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey in the squad's creative ranks, making it extremely unlikely Eisfeld would break into the team next season. At the age of 21 he is certainly right to move on.
Fulham represents an intriguing challenge for the youngster. Felix Magath is looking to overcome his first career relegation by taking the Cottagers back into England's top flight at the first time of asking. Eisfeld is the German's ninth signing of the summer, per West London Sport, after Konstantinos Stafylidis, Shaun Hutchinson, Tim Hoogland, Adam Taggart, Kay Voser, Mattias Kait, Adil Chihi, and, most notably, Ross McCormack joined the club.
McCormack joined for a hefty £11 million from Leeds, as reported by BBC Sport, signalling Magath's intent.
The Championship side have possessed some notable attacking midfield stars across recent years, meaning Eisfeld faces a real challenge to impress. Individuals such as Clint Dempsey, Bryan Ruiz and Lewis Holtby have appeared in front of a crowd who were used to watching quality football before last season's failure.
Eisfeld possesses a quick-thinking mind and is someone who can play a key pass at any moment. He is comfortable on the ball and likes to keep possession moving forward by darting into space when possible.
Many Arsenal fans are sure to be disappointed by the player's departure, but the club is no longer a correct fit for his progress. Eisfeld is at an age where he needs to establish his qualities with a consistent level of play at the top level. Fulham may have stuttered down a division, but Craven Cottage is an excellent stage for Eisfeld to highlight he deserves to be at a club of Arsenal or Dortmund's ilk.
Magath is certainly willing to make bold moves in the transfer market. Fulham fans will be hoping his sense of ambition can be translated onto the pitch and he can inspire first-time success at making it back into the Premier League, especially if Eisfeld can inspire.