Born in the southwest of his native Ivory Coast, new Fulham midfielder Jean Michael Seri signed for his first professional club – the Abidjan-based ASEC Mimosas – as an 18-year-old in early 2010. His talents were spotted early, with a loan move to Porto secured in 2012; although, with no place for him in the first-team squad, the young Seri instead played half a season in the Porto B team.
That spell was enough to see him signed by another Portuguese top-flight club, Pacos de Ferreira. In two years with the club, Seri demonstrated a mixture of technical ability and athleticism, both with and without the ball. His potential as an effective number eight drew the attention of Nice, who had to shell out a surprisingly low €1m to recruit a player yet to turn 24. Used mainly as an advanced central midfielder in his time in the south of France, he could also drop deeper into a more defensive role – although this did limit his ability to move up the pitch with the late supporting runs at which he excels.
Despite not always playing in his most natural position, Seri helped Nice rise from previously modest Ligue 1 finishes to fourth and third in his first two seasons. A disappointing third season saw them drop to eighth, with Seri’s own levels dropping in the wake of a rumoured move to Barcelona that never materialised. Despite this, Fulham will be hoping for an immediate impact from the 27-year-old, who moves to southwest London for a club record fee reported to be in the region of £25m.