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Crystal Palace linked with RB Leipzig winger Oliver Burke – where would he fit in?

The Boot Room

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Burke

Following a poor start to the season, it is no surprise to see Crystal Palace linked with various transfer targets. New manager, Frank de Boer, has suffered defeat in both Premier League fixtures; including a 3-0 loss to Huddersfield Town on their Premier League debut.

The Dutch coach appears determined to use a 3-4-3 formation, something the players at his disposal are clearly struggling with. While it is far too early to slur either personnel or tactics, reinforcements would certainly offer greater flexibility and cover the side in the event of future injuries.

The latest player linked with a move to Selhurst Park is Scottish international Oliver Burke. The Guardian report that Palace will bid for the 20-year-old, who was left out of the RB Leipzig squad at the weekend. He is valued at around £15 million.

Burke is a product of Nottingham Forest’s youth system and previously worked under Dougie Freedman, Palace’s recently appointed Sporting Director. He was sold last summer to the ambitious German side but played a fringe role as they attacked their way to 2nd place on their maiden Bundesliga campaign.

Despite holding his place in the squad and making 25 league appearances, the youngster was used predominantly off the bench, getting an average of 25 minutes per showing.  The season started brightly as he registered an assist when first brought on and scored on his first start. However, only four more starts followed and his recent exclusion from the squad suggests he is surplus to requirements.

Frank de Boer and Crystal Palace could well become beneficiaries of the situation, with the possibility of gaining a versatile young attacker for a fair price, given the transfer fee inflation seen this summer. Freedman is well placed to influence the decision and is more aware than most of Burke’s potential.

Given the poor start and the manager’s preference of 3-4-3, there is little doubt that Burke would improve the squad, adding to the limited options of Wilfried Zaha, Andros Townsend (who has been linked with a move away, by the Daily Mail) and Bakary Sako. Upfront the situation is no better, with Christian Benteke the only fit senior forward. The targeted young Scotsman can play in all three positions.

That flexibility could prove crucial for a limited squad and Burke would be a good addition. The biggest doubt over the 20-year-old is regarding his ability to step up and be a regular starter for a team in the top-flight – something he is yet to do.

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Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace will be kicking themselves over Mandela Egbo

The England youth international left Crystal Palace in 2015.

Mathew Coull

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Young English winger Keanan Bennetts made the news this week, by completing a move to German side Borussia Monchengladbach. The 19-year-old turned his back on Tottenham Hotspur in order to make the move to Germany, a move that is becoming more and more regular.

Jadon Sancho, Ryan Kent and Reece Oxford all played in the Bundesliga this season, whilst Ademola Lookman was on fire for RB Leipzig by the end of the campaign.

But one young man who did the same thing will surely be leaving a sour taste in the mouth at Crystal Palace.

The player in question is 20-year-old defender Mandela Egbo. He is now one of Bennetts’ new team-mates at Gladbach and will no doubt be helping his fellow Londoner settle in the North Rhine-Westphalia.

(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Hackney-born Egbo started his career at Crystal Palace. He swiftly rose through the ranks at the club and looked like a genuine talent for his country as well. Egbo was a member of the England squad that won the European Under-17 Championships back in 2014.

But in 2015 he decided he wanted to leave Crystal Palace. The defender joined Gladbach, where he played with their B team and saw a clearer pathway toward first-team football.

Egbo has since gone on to make his Bundesliga debut and Palace fans will realise they are now missing out on a real talent.

At 20-years-old he now appears to have matured into a very talented footballer. He simply felt that rather than getting a chance at Palace, the Eagles would always buy a new defender instead of giving him a shot.

(Photo by Raquel Costa/Getty Images)

Undoubtedly, it looks as though this has been a good career move for Egbo. Palace, on the other hand, will be disappointed they never managed to keep him in London.

Roy Hodgson would have been delighted to have a player of Egbo’s natural quality available to him in the Palace squad for next season.

Whilst fans at Selhurst Park will be gutted Egbo is not an Eagle anymore, they will no doubt wish him all the best in the Bundesliga. And who knows? Maybe, one day, Egbo will make a return to his boyhood club.

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Wilfried Zaha would be an underwhelming signing for Liverpool

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Photo: Getty Images.

Liverpool have become the latest top six club to be linked with Crystal Palace ace Wilfried Zaha as the Liverpool Echo included the Reds as one of many sides believed to be chasing the Ivory Coast winger.

However, if the club do make a move for the 25-year-old, it would show a lack of ambition after what many have perceived to be a season of progress as Liverpool have reached the Champions League final whilst retaining their top four spot.

On paper, a wideman with strength and pace who scores goals would be ready-made for Jurgen Klopp’s attacking set-up and could provide a much needed rotation option alongside the likes of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane up-front.

Despite that, it would be a huge gamble to invest in Zaha. One reason for that is that he has showed his best form at Selhurst Park in the second half of 2017/18 as Roy Hodgson gave the winger a free role in attack, allowing him freedom to switch between flanks and centrally in a number ten role.

(during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on March 31, 2018 in London, England.

At Anfield, Zaha would not possess such an option, and if he tried to maintain many of the key traits of his game of cutting inside and drifting around near the opposition box, he would be standing on the toes of established regulars like Salah and Firmino.

Then there is the concern over Zaha’s ability to adapt. His previous spell at Manchester United hinted at the fact that he has struggled with the associated pressure of being at a big club like Liverpool or their north-western rivals, which will be a concern for any club paying the astronomical transfer fee that Crystal Palace would demand for his services.

The winger has undoubted potential, but as Champions League finalists and with money to spend, Liverpool can afford to go after established stars rather than taking expensive gambles on unproven men who have a history of inconsistency.

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West Ham can’t afford to lose Michail Antonio to Crystal Palace

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Photo: Getty Images.

Uncertainty surrounds West Ham United as a summer rollercoaster looks inevitable with big changes on and off the field. That is starting with a change in the dug-out, where The Times say that former Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is favourite to replace David Moyes. The club could pay a heavy price though, with Michail Antonio potentially at risk.

The Guardian say that London rivals Crystal Palace are looking to do their transfer business early and could pounce on the chaos at the London Stadium to poach the winger away from the Hammers.

The former Sheffield Wednesday man missed much of the 2017/18 season with on and off injuries from bruised ribs to calf strains and a pulled hamstring, which may suggest that now could be the right time to cash in on the explosive 28-year-old who relies on physicality and dynamic pace.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images,)

Yet despite that, West Ham cannot afford to be tempted into selling. Despite being sidelined by injury at various points throughout the season, when fit Antonio was always one of the first names on the team sheet under both Slaven Bilic and David Moyes.

Antonio’s tenacity and determination shows why a new manager, whether it is Pellegrini or not, should look to build their team around the winger. Able to play in a variety of roles and a real fan favourite, the unpopular Irons board would be taking a huge gamble by allowing Antonio to depart.

It is no surprise that Palace are interested, and had it not been for injury some much more high profile clubs could have come calling, but West Ham must retain the services of Michail Antonio if they are to pursue hopes of pushing for Europe.

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