Bernd backs Fulham for European qualification

Bernd Leno insists Fulham should be looking to finish the job and qualify for Europe this season – and even joked they should be aiming to win the Premier League title.

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The Germany goalkeeper saw a run of eight defeats in their last 13 top-flight matches end any hope of reaching the European places last term.

Marco Silva’s side still finished tenth, a disappointing end to a superb first campaign back in the top flight but at least this time there was no struggle with relegation.

Now, following Saturday’s 1-0 win at Everton, Leno believes the Londoners should be aiming high again.

Asked what Fulham’s ambitions should be for the new campaign, he told Metro: ‘Same as last season – after 20-25 matches we can change the target and say, “We go for Europe or mid-table or whatever” or for the (league) trophy. No, I’m joking!

‘We prepare just for [the next game] and not what could happen next year in May.’

Leno claims running Manchester City and Manchester United close both home and away last term should provide belief that Fulham are on an equal footing with their more established opponents.

‘I think now everyone knows we can compete. We can compete with the big teams, especially at home,’ he added. ‘When you see United and City, they struggled against us.

‘At the end we lost these games but you saw they were decided by details – in the last minute against United.

‘We know how we can compete against these teams and they also know what they can expect from us so it will be a challenge.’

The Fulham No.1 admits the fact the transfer window remains open, with the likes of Aleksandar Mitrovic and Joao Palhinha attracting attention, ensures the next few weeks will not be easy.

Striker Mitrovic was wanted by Saudi side Al-Hilal, who are tipped to be back with a new bid of £47million, while boss Silva turned down a £40m offer from Al-Ahli. Palhinha, meanwhile, has been linked to Liverpool and West Ham.

There could also be incomings before Saturday’s derby at home to Brentford and Leno said: ‘Every season you have the same problem. Last year, I came in one day before the first game against Liverpool. I had no pre-season because I didn’t train much at Arsenal, no friendlies, nothing.

‘I had zero rhythm so I had to adapt as quick as possible but that’s our job and that is why we are professionals. The team is very nice to adapt to and the fans make it very easy for players to adapt and get the confidence so I don’t worry about it.’

Leno, who left the Emirates in search of regular first-team football, was close to Aaron Ramsdale, the man who went on to replace him in goal for the Gunners.

Ramsdale recently revealed his wife suffered a miscarriage in January. Asked whether he had reached out to Ramsdale, Leno said: ‘No, not yet. I think I really appreciate him as a person, he’s a really good guy, even when we were both Arsenal goalkeepers we had a very good relationship

‘Soon I am going to speak with him and I think credit to him that he speaks about his personal life very openly and I wish him all the best for the future.’

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