Palace fan’s heartbreak and fury after England’s appalling loss was appeased by news that Marseille had accepted a £32 million for 22-year-old Michy Batshuayi. The Belgian international scored on Sunday in Belgium’s 4-0 win over Hungary. Bathsuayi; primarily a striker, is being pursued by Liverpool, West Ham, and Juventus. Palace, arguably being the little horse in the transfer race, have pulled ahead as first team to have actually bid for the promising youngster, yet alone had an offer accepted.
Batshuayi would break the club’s transfer record set by Yohan Cabaye’s switch to the South Londoners, but if last season is any indicator of what he could bring to Selhurst Park, then the investment might be worth it. The Belgian bagged a brilliant 17 goals in 32 appearances in Ligue 1. The striker will bring clinical finishing and could fit into the Palace system quite like Connor Wickham, performing well in the hold-up aspects of the game.
Moreover, this signing could fix Palace’s problem-child from last season – scoring goals. Palace’s strikers failed to establish consistency and have any sort of respectable collective contribution to the Eagles’ season.
What makes the prospect of the move most exciting though is the fact that Batshuayi is only 22 years of age, and still has time to develop even more. The young Belgian could emerge into a top player in the Premier League and propel the Eagles to new heights. In such a case however, it would be realistic to expect Batshuayi to move away sooner rather than later, which would not be all doom and gloom as the returns on a new transfer fee would be potentially huge, allowing the club to reinvest in other talent.
The news should be taken with a pinch of salt however, as Batshuayi is expected to pursue Champions League football next term, and he has stated that he won’t make a decision on his future until Euro 2016 is over.
Either way, it could happen, similar to how Parish and Pardew won over Yohan Cabaye and lured his away from PSG. Either way, the fact that Palace are even interested in players of Batshuayi’s calibre is a testament to the club’s growth and ambition to continue progressing year by year.
Any investment of this size comes with risk, but it is hard to come up a with a better option at a similar price-point, considering Batshuayi’s age and goals to games ratio of 0.53 (roughly a goal every other game).
Michy Batshuayi is not the only player from the nine-time Ligue 1 champions who could be gracing the pitch at Selhurst Park next season. 31-year-old French ‘keeper Steve Mandanda is supposedly close to a move to Selhurst. Swayed by compatriot Yohan Cabaye, Mandanda is leaning towards a move to South London. Mandanda apparently also has Stamford Bridge as an option, joining Antonio Conte’s Chelsea, in addition to Goodison Park under Ronald Koeman. Either way, he is said to be in advanced talks with Parish at this point.
The prospect of Mandanda’s move is an interesting one. Palace had goalkeeper issues last term with Wayne Hennessey and Alex McCarthy primarily. The Congolese-born French international would have more experience at the highest level than any player at Crystal Palace, having won Ligue 1 and the French League cup. Mandanda has also starred for the French national team on many occasions.
Mandanda offers a possible breath of fresh air between the sticks for Palace. He is hardly the youngest, but is still only two years older than Wayne Hennessey and; being a goalkeeper, has a longer shelf-life than most other players on the market. Last season, despite a sub-par campaign for Marseille overall, Mandanda kept nine clean sheets. Best of all, Mandanda is available on a free transfer as his contract expires so is a low risk signing.
If rumours are to be believed, Dwight Gayle might be on his way out of Palace. Arguably appreciated more by the fans than the manager, Gayle looks poised to leave SE25. According to the Daily Mail, Newcastle and Fulham are battling it out for the Englishman’s services. Despite arguably being the best of Palace’s strikers last year, Gayle never earned regular playing time despite some big goals, especially in the latter half of the season.
Considering the possibility of Bathsuayi signing at Palace for a whopping fee, offloading Gayle to the Toon or the Cottagers might be in Palace’s interest. It is rumored that a deal would be worth £11 million.
Gayle has been Palace’s top goal-scorer for three straight seasons, so Parish and Pardew should be wary of offloading the forward prematurely until a deal has been struck with a reliable lethal striker. The sale could be useful and it would be money that could fund Palace’s new investments and help to keep the club’s finances on an even keel.
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