Thursday 19 January 2017 16:44, UK
Fulham midfielder Tom Cairney says he takes his reported £20m price tag as a compliment but admits his team-mates joke about it.
The 25-year-old has been a key player for Slavisa Jokanovic's side as they have emerged as one of the most entertaining teams in the Sky Bet Championship. They face Queens Park Rangers on Saturday, live on Sky Sports 1HD.
Cairney's influence on Fulham's style of play has reportedly been noted by Rafa Benitez at Newcastle with the national press suggesting the Cottagers rebuffed the interest by telling the Magpies their club captain had an asking price of £20m.
When asked about his lucrative price tag on the EFL Weekly Podcast, he joked: "It's a bargain!
"The boys have put stuff on my locker about that price tag.
"If I misplace a pass in training, everyone shouts '£10m!' Everyone is on me. I take it as a compliment. I can't let it affect me. For those figures to be mentioned, I must be doing something right.
"It's nice on a personal level to feel like your performances have warranted interest from those types of clubs. You hear it on the news, or the internet and friends will be sending you stuff. However, without the help of the club and the staff, this wouldn't be possible. I owe a lot to them. A lot of it is down to the way we play. I get a lot of touches. It suits my style."
Fulham currently sit eighth, six points off the play-off places with a game in hand, but this is their best points total at this stage of a season since taking 61 points from 25 games in 2001 - when they won the first division title.
With Cairney at the heart of it, Fulham have attempted most passes (14,111) and have best passing accuracy (83.22 per cent) in the league this season.
"It's an honour to captain Fulham. I'm enjoying every minute of playing in this team," he said.
"I think we can get to the play-offs. We'll be very disappointed if we don't make it. In the second half of the season we need to put four or five wins together, which we haven't done so far."
This Saturday's west London derby at Loftus Road holds good recent memories for Cairney's men.
Fulham have won seven of last nine league meetings with QPR, but Cairney believes the recent appointment of Ian Holloway at their rivals will make this tricky test for the Whites.
"Ian Holloway has got them all fighting for each other again - you could see that when I watched them against Reading," he said.
"The first 15 minutes could be hectic but we've got to try and settle the ball down. Slow the game down and get into our stride. Hopefully we can take over."