Fulham reel in Jol with £20m of spending money

Former Spurs manager to make Robbie Keane his first target as he finalises deal at Craven Cottage
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The Independent Football

Martin Jol has been promised he will have around £20m to spend on new recruits this summer should he become the Fulham manager. The Fulham board yesterday continued to negotiate with Ajax over compensation for Jol, whose potential departure from the famous Dutch club has caused outrage in the Netherlands.

Jol also spent hours in talks with Ajax, who hope they might be able to convince him to stay. The likelihood is, however, that a deal will be announced today that he has left to take charge of Fulham. The terms of Jol's contract with Ajax contains a clause that covered the eventuality of him leaving after one season in charge, in which case the club would be due around £1.2m in compensation.

Jol's frustration at Ajax's decision to sell several of the club's best players has allowed Fulham the opportunity to tempt him away. He has been told that the opposite will be true at Fulham, where £20m will be made available for him to spend on new players immediately.

Robbie Keane, the Tottenham Hotspur striker, is understood to be one of his first targets. Jol made Keane his captain when the pair were together at Tottenham, and the manager still holds the Republic of Ireland international in the highest regard.

Keane, 30, would be available for a fee of around £6m, although Fulham are likely to face competition from Aston Villa for the striker's signature.

Jol could also have to find a new goalkeeper should Mark Schwarzer move to Arsenal, with England keeper David James a potential short-term option. Villa midfielder Steve Sidwell is another possible recruit, for a fee of £2m.

There would be changes in the back room staff as well, with Jol bringing with him two members of staff from Ajax. His older brother Cornelius – known as Cock – is likely to come as his assistant and advisor with Mike Lindeman joining as the new fitness coach.

Jol spoke on Sunday for the first time about the approach from Fulham, following Ajax's 1-0 defeat to Porto in a friendly. Jol said: "On Thursday evening Fulham contacted me. Fulham said they wanted me as their new manager and they contacted Ajax. The Premier League is the best competition in the world, and I like London very much. Fulham is a great opportunity.

"The way it is going at Ajax we cannot play for the title, or the biggest prizes. For the past two weeks I have been very worried about what is going to happen with Ajax. In the past they have paid too much for not so good players and now they have no money to invest in the squad."

The signing of Jol would represent something of a coup for Fulham, who were keen to appoint a well-known manager after Roy Hodgson left to take charge at Liverpool three weeks ago. Not only is he a manager with a proven track record in the Premier League, but he is also highly respected across Europe.

Jol has agreed a one-year rolling contract with Fulham that will see him paid a basic wage of £1.7m a year, but with several large bonuses related to performances such as reaching Europe or winning a domestic cup competition.

The basic is lower than the £2.5m salary Jol was on at Ajax but if he manages to achieve what Hodgson did at the club then his earnings will be about the same. Jol still has a house in London and has long harboured a desire to return to the capital.

Fulham hope all the legalities concerning the change of manager will be completed today so Jol can be in charge of the team's friendly against Halmstad in Sweden on Thursday evening.