Crystal Palace target Barcelona's Munir El Haddadi - could they force a move?
It is not too often that a sentence like this is heard in English football but reports surfacing from Spain over the past day allege that a Barcelona forward could be heading to the Premier League.
Mundo Deportivo have claimed that 21-year-old Munir El Haddadi has recently alerted the interest of Crystal Palace’s Frank de Boer, with the Dutchman set to battle it out with a host of La Liga sides.
The Spanish international – of Moroccan heritage – spent last season on-loan at fellow La Liga side Valencia and it’s thought that he’s in high demand after being told by Barcelona that he’s free to leave.
Could the Barcelona youngster adapt to the Premier League?
Although he’s not exactly a household name like his esteemed teammates Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi just yet, Munir has been on the precipice of the Barcelona first-team for a fair few years now.
A product of Barcelona’s ‘B’ team, the 21-year-old made his debut for the Spanish giants in August 2014 and scored in a 3-0 win against Eibar, becoming the third-youngest Barcelona goal-scorer at 18-years-old.
In the two seasons that followed he played an adept back-up to the notorious ‘MSN’ trio, featuring 25 times in La Liga – and seven times in Europe too – before being loaned out to Valencia last campaign.
It is not too hard to see why he was largely touted to become the next in line to take over the reins from Messi, Suarez and recently-departed Neymar at the Nou Camp with his general play full of pace, desire and aggression.
His versatility to play in either a striking role or as a wide player would also be advantageous for Palace, particularly with Wilfried Zaha currently on the side-line, with his constant movement off the ball enough to cause nightmares for defenders in the final third; add in his sense of maturity that’s way beyond his years and there’s a raw potential in Munir that could be exposed and grown in the Premier League.
After featuring regularly at Barcelona he has also learnt how to be intelligent on the ball, able to initiate quick interchanges of possession and unlock the opposition with small and intricate passes, and if he can start to gel with the likes of Andros Townsend in the final third Palace will create a lot of chances.
Obviously young potential doesn’t always translate to the final product – the last Barcelona youngster to make the switch to the Premier League, Bojan, didn’t exactly set the world alight.
But there’s something about Munir’s attitude to football – both on and off the pitch – that makes it seem that he wouldn’t be a complete flop in the English top-flight, instead being able to develop his game well.
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