Aleksandar Mitrovic was "practically begged" to stay at Fulham by vice-chairman Tony Khan prior to his record-breaking Championship season.

The Serbia striker scored twice as Fulham battered Luton Town 7-0 on Monday to clinch the title, taking him to 43 league goals for the campaign.

That tally represents a new benchmark for the division, beating Guy Whittingham's 42 registered in the 1992-1993 season.

However, Khan revealed those incredible exploits almost did not happen with Mitrovic having asked to depart after a campaign that saw him score only three times in 27 Premier League appearances and resulted in the Cottagers being relegated.

"He told me he was leaving," Khan said in quotes reported by the Athletic. "He said, 'I cannot come back, I just can't do it.' He didn't play last year. The team were relegated and I don't think it's any secret that he wasn't happy with how the season went. He believed he could have contributed more. He didn't want to come back. I practically begged him to keep an open mind.

"I'm really happy for him. I really like Mitro, as a player and as a person. I'm really proud, too, because when he called me last summer he was very frustrated. 

"He didn't want to come back. It's amazing how, 10 months on, so much has changed and everything has fallen into such a perfect place. It's like a storybook."

For his part, Mitrovic conceded the prospect of breaking the record had been on his mind even if he was not openly speaking about the target.

"I know I've always tried to say I've not thought about the record," he said.

"But when you're that close and everybody starts talking about it, so of course I wanted to break it - and now it's happened. 

"It was special in a big win. So, I think we finished the season like we dreamed, like we wanted with a big win at home in front of our crowd and I broke the record - everything was perfect."

Fulham have now been either promoted or relegated in each of the past five seasons. Khan had a rather amusing way of displaying his hope the club can buck that trend.

"We've done the first part to get promoted," Khan said. "Now we want to do the other part. 

"We definitely need to put together a great season and do everything we can to stay up. We've been focused on building a more sustainable team and I think we can do it. 

"I don't want us to be seen that way [as a yo-yo club]. From now on, I just want us to be a yo club."

Fulham sealed the Championship title with a thumping 7-0 win over Luton Town, as Aleksandar Mitrovic set a new goalscoring record for a 46-game season.

Having wrapped up an immediate promotion back to the Premier League by beating Preston North End last week, Marco Silva's Whites confirmed their status as second-tier Champions with a win that sent several records tumbling at Craven Cottage.

Mitrovic, who was recently crowned Championship player of the season after an incredible individual campaign, beat Guy Whittingham's long-standing record of 42 goals in a 46-game English league season, set in Portsmouth's 1992-93 campaign, also in the second-tier.

The Serbia international scored Fulham's fourth and seventh goals to take his tally to 43 in 43 appearances this season, with the Cottagers having one league game still to play.

Although Mitrovic's tally is some way behind the all-time second-tier record (Middlesbrough's George Camsell hit 59 goals in 1927-28), he has now outscored this season's second-highest goalscorer – Bournemouth's Dominic Solanke – by 14 strikes, as Fulham reached 106 league goals for the campaign.

In doing so, Silva's side became the first to score 100 goals in a single second-tier season since Manchester City reached 108 in 2001-02, a tally they could yet better when they visit Sheffield United on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Fulham also became the first team since Tottenham's 1960-61 double winners to score 50 goals both home and away in a single league campaign across the top four tiers of English football. 

Remarkably, Luton, who could yet join Fulham in the Premier League via the play-offs as they sit sixth with one game remaining, are also the third team to lose 7-0 to Fulham this season, after Blackburn Rovers in November and Reading in January.

That means three of the five biggest margins of victory recorded in English league football this season have been set by Silva's men, who will hope to break their reputation as a 'yo-yo' club on their return to the top flight next term.

Aleksandar Mitrovic sensationally secured the Championship's single-season scoring record in February with his 32nd and 33rd goals of the campaign for Fulham on Wednesday.

Since England's second tier was rebranded as the Championship in 2004-05, Ivan Toney's 31 goals last season for Brentford had represented the benchmark.

However, Mitrovic's remarkable season continued in Fulham's 2-1 win over Peterborough United, his 30th appearance of 2021-22.

The Serbia international's opener from the penalty spot passed Toney's mark, before his second extended his own record and ensured the league leaders took all three points.

Mitrovic, who also played in the division for Newcastle United before joining Fulham, now has 75 Championship goals in just 116 appearances.

That compares favourably with his rather underwhelming return of 24 goals in 104 in the Premier League.

The last player to score more in the second tier was Portsmouth's Guy Whittingham, who hit 42 in 1992-93, although even that pales next to George Camsell's ludicrous 59 Middlesbrough goals all the way back in 1926-27.

Perhaps with those two now in his sights, Mitrovic said: "I've had quite a few records, but this feels nice. I broke the record with the Serbia national team as well, and now today here. I feel good, I feel great in this team."

Fulham boss Marco Silva added: "The best team on the pitch deserves the three points; congratulations for our players and now let's talk about Mitro. Congratulations for him.

"The numbers speak for themselves. I cannot say anything more. 33 goals at the end of February with 14 games to play – they are fantastic, fantastic numbers.

"What I like more from him is that he's always demanding more and more and more. He knows that from tomorrow I will demand more and more from him. The team-mates will do the same as well.

"But first we are happy, because it's not just Mitro's number, it's something more, it's something that reflects our philosophy as a club, as a staff."

Another day, another Kylian Mbappe rumour.

The Paris Saint-Germain and France forward has long been linked with Real Madrid.

Madrid's high-profile chase could be reaching a conclusion.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID'S MBAPPE PLAN

Real Madrid's plan to sign Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe has been revealed, according to the front page of Saturday's Marca.

Mbappe is Madrid's top transfer target, with the PSG forward out of contract at the end of the season and both parties have made no secret of their admiration.

The recent report claims the offer is "unrejectable" as Madrid's interest dates back to Mbappe's time at Monaco in 2017.

Marca also reports Madrid are set for a busy January amid interest in other soon-to-be free agents – Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba and Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger.

 

ROUND-UP

- Mundo Deportivo says Barcelona are negotiating a move for Manchester City forward Ferran Torres, though the Premier League champions are not interested in selling the Spaniard.

Bayern Munich could look to sign Barca goalkeeper and Germany international Marc-Andre ter Stegen in 2023, per El Nacional.

- Roma star Nicolo Zaniolo is wanted by Serie A rivals Juventus and Antonio Conte's Tottenham, claims Calciomercato.

Juve are eyeing Fulham star Aleksandar Mitrovic as an alternative should they miss out on in-demand Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic, according to Todofichajes. Vlahovic has been linked with City, United, Madrid, Barca, Bayern, Atletico Madrid, Arsenal, Inter and Tottenham.

- The Star says Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips will turn down a move to Old Trafford. Phillips has attracted interest from rivals Manchester United but the England international midfielder is unwilling to spark backlash from fans.

Serbia head coach Dragan Stojkovic insisted there is no limit to what the country can achieve after they qualified for the 2022 World Cup in dramatic fashion.

Aleksandar Mitrovic scored in the 90th minute to break Portugal's hearts as Serbia reached next year's showpiece tournament in Qatar thanks to a last-gasp 2-1 victory in Group A on Sunday.

Portugal only required a draw to earn automatic qualification and Cristiano Ronaldo's men were on track after Renato Sanches and Dusan Tadic traded first-half goals in Lisbon.

However, Serbia dominated and were rewarded when substitute Mitrovic headed home late as Portugal were relegated to the play-offs.

"We have no limit, we will analyse everything after this, and we did everything we did perfectly," Stojkovic said post-game.

"We showed in the end that we are better. We have the potential for much bigger things."

Serbia failed to qualify for Euro 2020 following a disappointing play-off defeat to Scotland.

Mitrovic – Serbia's all-time leading scorer – said: "I don't know what to say. I would cry and laugh at the same time. 

"Great victory, we came to Portugal to play football, to win. We were better, outplayed the opponent and deservedly celebrated."

Serbia captain Tadic, who equalised in the 33rd minute to cancel out Sanches' early opener, praised the impact of Stojkovic.

Stojkovic was appointed in March, replacing under-fire boss Mladen Krstajic.

"There are a lot of emotions at the moment and everyone is very happy and satisfied," Tadic added. "Since [Stojkovic] came, I think that a smile has returned and that we are playing beautiful football, which we showed today. 

"We showed that we can come to Portugal to dominate and win. I think that everyone who wears this coat of arms and who is a citizen of this country should be very happy and proud."

"Serbia should go to the World and European Championships continuously," Tadic said. "I hope that [Stojkovic] will stay for a long time and that Serbia will go to big competitions all the time."

Aleksandar Mitrovic's late winner saw Serbia seal their spot at the 2022 World Cup with a 2-1 victory over Portugal in Lisbon.

Portugal went ahead after just two minutes as Bernardo Silva capitalised on a defensive error to set up Renato Sanches, who opened the scoring with an unerring finish. 

Dusan Tadic's deflected strike levelled the scores later in the first half, with Rui Patricio partially culpable for allowing the ball to cross the line.

Substitute Mitrovic completed a dramatic turnaround in the 90th minute as he headed in from Tadic's cross to send Serbia top of Group A and condemn Portugal to the playoffs.

Portugal enjoyed a dream start as Silva dispossessed Nemanja Gudelj before finding Sanches, who advanced into the area and rifled past Predrag Rajkovic.

Dusan Vlahovic thought he had equalised 10 minutes later as he struck towards the bottom-right corner, but his left-footed effort bounced off the post and away from danger.

Serbia did draw level in the 33rd minute when Tadic's fierce strike from the edge of the area took a deflection, causing Patricio to fumble into his own net.

The hosts came within inches of reclaiming the lead after the interval as Sanches' blocked effort was cleared against Rajkovic's back and rolled just wide.

Serbia appeared surprisingly conservative in the second half but Mitrovic, who headed wide only minutes before, grabbed a dramatic winner with just a minute remaining of normal time as he nodded in at the back post from Tadic's cross to ensure his country's place at the World Cup.

Aleksandar Mitrovic's late winner saw Serbia seal their spot at the 2022 World Cup with a 2-1 victory over Portugal in Lisbon.

Portugal went ahead after just two minutes as Bernardo Silva capitalised on a defensive error to set up Renato Sanches, who opened the scoring with an unerring finish. 

Dusan Tadic's deflected strike levelled the scores later in the first half, with Rui Patricio partially culpable for allowing the ball to cross the line.

Substitute Mitrovic completed a dramatic turnaround in the 90th minute as he headed in from Tadic's cross to send Serbia top of Group A and condemn Portugal to the playoffs.

Portugal enjoyed a dream start as Silva dispossessed Nemanja Gudelj before finding Sanches, who advanced into the area and rifled past Predrag Rajkovic.

Dusan Vlahovic thought he had equalised 10 minutes later as he struck towards the bottom-right corner, but his left-footed effort bounced off the post and away from danger.

Serbia did draw level in the 33rd minute when Tadic's fierce strike from the edge of the area took a deflection, causing Patricio to fumble into his own net.

The hosts came within inches of reclaiming the lead after the interval as Sanches' blocked effort was cleared against Rajkovic's back and rolled just wide.

Serbia appeared surprisingly conservative in the second half but Mitrovic, who headed wide only minutes before, grabbed a dramatic winner with just a minute remaining of normal time as he nodded in at the back post from Tadic's cross to ensure his country's place at the World Cup.

Aleksandar Mitrovic's late winner saw Serbia seal their spot at the 2022 World Cup with a 2-1 win over Portugal in Lisbon.

Portugal went ahead after just two minutes as Bernardo Silva capitalised on a defensive error to set up Renato Sanches, who opened the scoring with an unerring finish. 

Dusan Tadic's deflected strike levelled the scores later in the first half, with Rui Patricio partially culpable for allowing the ball to cross the line.

Substitute Mitrovic completed a dramatic turnaround in the 90th minute as he headed in from Tadic's cross to send Serbia top of Group A and condemn Portugal to the playoffs.

Cristiano Ronaldo was denied a dramatic late winner in contentious circumstances as Portugal threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Serbia in World Cup qualifying on Saturday.

Diogo Jota had seen his double cancelled out by Aleksandar Mitrovic and Filip Kostic – the former becoming Serbia's all-time leading scorer with his 39th international goal – at the Rajko Mitic Stadium.

Portugal skipper Ronaldo was then convinced his last-gasp effort had crossed the line but the officials judged Stefan Mitrovic cleared before all of the ball had done so, with the Juventus superstar booked for his protestations before he angrily threw his captain's armband on the floor.

It means both Portugal and Serbia, who had Nikola Milenkovic sent off prior to the late drama, each have four points - one more than Luxembourg, who sealed a remarkable 1-0 win against the Republic of Ireland.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.