Sky Sports are reporting that Porto defender Bruno Martins Indi is set to join Crystal Palace, despite having spent last season on loan at Premier League rivals Stoke City.
The 25-year-old was almost ever present at the Bet365 Stadium, making 35 Premier League appearances and scoring one goal, and was one of the stand-out performers in Mark Hughes’ side as he partnered Ryan Shawcross in central defence. His consistency on the pitch resulted in a surprise recall to the Dutch national team and he has now earned over 30 caps for the Oranje.
Martins Indi had been expected to agree a permanent move to Stoke in the summer with the initial loan deal including an option to buy. However, The Potters have been slow to follow up their interest and that hesitation has opened the door for Crystal Palace to swoop in at the last minute.
The Dutch defender had been expected to undergo a medical at Stoke on Tuesday after the club had finally agreed a fee with Porto, but reports now suggest that Martins Indi will head to Selhust Park instead.
A blow for Stoke City
The news will come as a significant blow to Mark Hughes who has been under increasing pressure from a section of the Stoke City support following a disappoint campaign last season.
The Potters finished 13th in the Premier League, beating just one team in the top half of the table, and suffered early exits from both domestic cup competitions. Supporters were left feeling underwhelmed by their team’s performances and the general consensus was that the club had regressed over the previous twelve months.
The Stoke hierarchy have confirmed that they will continue to back Hughes and will provide him with the financial support to remould the current first team squad, although the Welshman will be well aware that he cannot afford a repeat of the previous campaign.
Hughes has been on the lookout for new defensive recruits and had been planning for Bruno Martins Indi to resume his partnership with Ryan Shawcross for the forthcoming season. The news that the Dutch defender will opt to join Crystal Palace instead will be a considerable setback for Stoke’s pre-season plans and comes just days after star winger Marko Arnautovic handed in a formal transfer request, according to the Telegraph.
With Ryan Shawcross the only highly-rated central defender at the club, The Potters suddenly look distinctly short of defensive quality.
A coup for Crystal Palace
Newly appointed Crystal Palace manager Ronald de Boer will be delighted at securing the signing of Bruno Martins Indi as he begins to implement a rebuilding programme at Selhurst Park.
The Dutchman was selected to fill the void left by the departure of Sam Allardyce at the end of last season and is determined that there will be no repeat of the relegation battle that the club were embroiled in for the majority of the previous campaign. He has indicated his desire to purchase four or five new players before the transfer window closes and has made signing a central defender a priority after being priced out of a move for Mamadou Sakho.
The Liverpool defender spent the second half of last season on loan at Selhurst Park and was a key influence in helping guide The Eagles away from the relegation zone. Crystal Palace had hoped to agree a permanent deal for the Frenchman but are unwilling to meet Liverpool’s valuation of the player, believed to be in the region of £30 million. De Boer believes that he could bring in two or three other players for the same price and has turned his attention to fellow Dutchman Martins Indi.
A boost for Crystal Palace but Stoke City are left short of quality
For Crystal Palace, the signing of Bruno Martins Indi is something of a coup – although the move will go somewhat under the radar initially.
The 25-year-old has an abundance of experience having played across Europe and is an established Dutch international. More importantly he has proven that he is able to produce consistent performances in the Premier League after a successful season on loan at Stoke City last year where his pace, power and strength allowed him to excel in English football. T
he move provides The Eagles with a perfect replacement for Mamadou Sakho and the transfer fee, rumoured to be a third of what Liverpool were demanding, will leave de Boer with funds to invest in alternative areas of his squad.
The news that Martins Indi has elected to join a Premier League rival will come as another blow to Mark Hughes as he attempts to prepare Stoke City for the forthcoming campaign. The Dutch defender was a prominent member of The Potters squad last season and the club’s inability to complete a permanent deal, despite having an option to buy included in the initial loan agreement, leaves the current team short of defensive quality.
With Marko Arnautovic also looking to depart the Bet365 Stadium, Hughes suddenly has two of his key players from last season to replace in addition to his original transfer plans.
Bruno Martins Indi is a significant coup for Crystal Palace, but leaves Stoke City with a lot of work to do over the summer.
Featured image all rights reserved Serg Hoholok.
Crystal Palace’s Premier League run-in could see them beat the drop
The Eagles are in the relegation zone with eight matches to play.
On the surface, Crystal Palace has little to cheer at the moment. Their last win came exactly two months ago, and although Roy Hodgson brought an initial uptick in results to Selhurst Park, the Eagles currently occupy 18th position.
Furthermore, Palace are coming off a brutal stretch of three straight losses to top-five clubs, all of which they excruciatingly lost by the solitary goal. Injuries have destroyed their first-team squad to the extent that an entire starting 11 can be compiled with players on the treatment table.
Yet, although this picture may appear bleak, a favourable run-in combined with the anticipated return of crucial players means Crystal Palace will be confident of retaining their Premier League status for a fifth straight season.
After a grueling stretch of matches versus Tottenham, Manchester United, and Chelsea, the remaining eight matches present a plethora of winnable fixtures against teams in the bottom half of the table. Palace will play Huddersfield, Bournemouth, Brighton, Watford, Leicester, Stoke, and West Brom; a run-in of dreams.
The only match where the Eagles would not be expected to pick up all three points is the March 31st encounter with Liverpool. But Palace have shown remarkable fighting spirit and drive in their matches against the top sides in the division.
Crystal Palace near toppled Manchester City back in December, they raced out to a 2-0 lead against Manchester United, came within minutes of a draw against Spurs, and deserved a draw against Chelsea but were denied by a questionable disallowed goal.
The vital return of integral players in the coming weeks is also a massive boost for Palace’s survival hopes. On Monday, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Wilfried Zaha, Yohan Cabaye, and Mamadou Sakho all returned to training.
Welcoming these experienced professionals back into the first team set-up will be priceless, as all four returning players played enormous roles in the early revival under Hodgson.
Add in a run-in brimming with winnable fixtures, and the Eagles should just about have enough to avoid relegation come May.
Crystal Palace 2-3 Manchester United: Three talking points from Selhurst Park
The Red Devils mounted an incredible comeback at Selhurst Park.
Nemanja Matic scored a dramatic stoppage-time winner as Manchester United overturned a two-goal deficit to inflict more pain on struggling Crystal Palace. Matic fired home from 25 yards to complete a memorable comeback from United, whose victory helped them regain second spot in the Premier League. Palace, meanwhile, remain in the relegation zone after slipping to their third successive defeat.
Selhurst Park was rocking when Andros Townsend put the hosts ahead via a huge deflection, before Patrick van Aanholt doubled their lead shortly after the break. However, Chris Smalling gave United hope 10 minutes later and the visitors then restored parity through Romelu Lukaku. With time ebbing away the draw looked inevitable, only for Matic to break Palace’s hearts with his first goal for the club. Here are three talking points…
Palace’s survival hopes suffer a hammer blow
A week earlier, the Eagles thought they had earned a vital point against Spurs in their battle to avoid the drop. That was until Harry Kane popped up to snatch victory with practically the last touch of the game. A sense of deja-vu was palpable when, after another encouraging performance against one of the top-flight’s heavyweights, Matic ensured Palace went home empty-handed. It was a monumental body blow.
Roy Hodgson’s side had belied their lowly league position and taken the attack to United, deservedly assuming complete control. Had the score remained at 2-0, Palace would have been as high as 13th in the table. But United’s comeback, which left Hodgon and his players visibly deflated, means they are 18th, one point adrift of safety with an inferior goal difference. Although the performance was a positive one, the result leaves the South London club deep in the mire.
Mourinho buoyed as United show resilience
For all the talk about how this has been a disappointing campaign for United, they leapfrogged Liverpool into second place as a result of this stunning victory. Jose Mourinho’s men exhibited substantial amounts of steel in doing so. They faced a real test of character, having fallen behind against a team fighting for their lives. It looked like a mountainous task, but United fought their way back into the game before snatching all three points at the death.
This was the first time since 2013 that the Red Devils had clawed back a two-goal deficit to win a Premier League match. Of all their victories this season, perhaps this one will please Mourinho the most. Any divisions are quickly exposed when teams find themselves in trouble. But the way United stuck to their task was a big statement at a key stage of the season. It should give Mourinho belief that his side can see off the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in the battle to finish runners-up.
Hodgson desperate for Wilfried Zaha’s return
Hodgson has previously tried to dismiss its significance, but Palace’s inability to win without Wilfried Zaha cannot be passed off as an anomaly. The Eagles have lost every single one of the nine Premier League games in which the 25-year-old has not featured this season, scoring only one goal in the process. For a while it looked as though that alarming record would be consigned to the history books, until United mounted an inspired comeback.
Zaha is clearly a talented individual whose absence would affect any team’s potency, but Palace’s over-reliance on him must be very concerning. The Ivory Coast international is currently sidelined through a knee injury and although he is back in light training, Hodgson has put no timeframe on his return to the fold. It’s no exaggeration to argue the Eagles’ survival aspirations depend on him.
Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham: Harry Kane proves his class with late winner
Tottenham managed to get a late winner against Crystal Palace to move into the Champions League places. They were the dominant force and had the better chances, but their final product wasn’t as reliable as usual. It looked as if an injury-hit Palace would earn a valuable point, but Harry Kane scored late on to win the game.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men are hitting form at the right time and look a good bet to finish in the top four for the third successive season. Meanwhile, Roy Hodgson was visibly frustrated at the end of the game and he will be aware of his team’s position.
They are only outside of the relegation zone on goal difference and have a number of key players unavailable with matches against Manchester United and Chelsea on the horizon. Here are three talking points to come out of the game at Selhurst Park:
Harry Kane proved why he is world class
The England international will be the first to admit it wasn’t his best performance. He had six shots during the match and missed a couple of really good chances before he finally did find the back of the net.
However, he remained confident and continued to take attempts on goal. It was a good header and earned the side a crucial two points.
Although Kane can miss a lot of chances and he did during this match, he doesn’t allow himself to get affected by his misses. Alvaro Morata is a high-profile striker that appears to lose confidence in himself after a big miss and that is a worrying trait to have as a goal-scorer.
The Tottenham number ten doesn’t have that and a miss only motivates him more. That was evident on Sunday. That shows an elite level mentality and one of the reasons why Harry Kane is one of the best strikers in the world. Despite playing poorly against Crystal Palace, he worked hard and got the crucial goal. That is all that matters.
Crystal Palace’s injury crisis could cost them their Premier League status
With ten matches to go, Crystal Palace will be confident that they can stay up as they have a more talented squad than the majority of clubs down there.
However, a lot of their best players are out injured right now and they were hindered by that on Sunday. They had only 24% possession and offered little attacking threat.
They were missing Wilfried Zaha, Scott Dann, Yohan Cabaye, Jason Puncheon, Joel Ward, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and a number of other first-team players. Their woes were compounded on Sunday as James Tomkins was forced off with an injury.
Palace’s next two matches are against Manchester United and Chelsea, two teams competing for a Champions League place. On one hand, these are tough matches that they would be outsiders in with a fit squad, therefore it is beneficial these are being played now.
That said, they are slipping closer to the relegation zone and building negative momentum at a bad time. Supporters will be more worried than they were at the beginning of the month.
Eric Dier impressed at centre-back
The 24-year-old is a great squad player to have and he showed his versatility on Sunday as he filled in at centre-back in the absence of Jan Vertonghen.
Toby Alderweireld suffered a setback and it was important that Tottenham fielded a player with experience there. Dier has benefitted from focusing on the midfield role in terms of development, but he remains able of filling in at the back.
During the match, he won four aerial duels and completed four ball recoveries. The time spent playing midfield has helped him develop on the ball and his distribution was very good on Sunday, as he completed 90% of his passes.
Tottenham will be hopeful of getting both Alderweireld and Vertonghen back together at the heart of their defence for the run-in, but the fact that they kept a clean sheet without both is encouraging. They have built a strong squad under Pochettino with plenty of options in every posiion and Dier’s centre-back display underlines that.
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