Fulham boss Coleman delighted to have signed Smertin

Coleman said: “He’s had a few contractual problems with his club in Russia but he’s still played every game, so we got in at the right time.

“Half a dozen other clubs in the Premiership wanted his services so it’s a feather in our cap that he wanted to come to Fulham.

“Jose (Mourinho) liked Alexei but he wanted to play regularly and Chelsea couldn’t guarantee that. He did a good job at Portsmouth and he’s a player I’ve admired for some time.

“Claude Makelele is the best in the business in that defensive midfield position but Alexei is first class.”