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Why Yohan Cabaye’s move to the Middle East just doesn’t make sense

The 32-year-old left Selhurst Park after a stellar season.

Max Cohen

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Yohan Cabaye
Photo: Getty Images

Earlier this week, French midfielder Yohan Cabaye completed a move to Arabian Gulf League side Al Nasr following the expiration of his contract at Crystal Palace.

The transfer is a baffling move for the 32-year-old central midfielder, as Cabaye was essential to Palace’s survival last season and still possessed the ability to perform at the highest level. 

In Cabaye’s 100-plus appearances for the Eagles, he established himself as a firm fan favourite and an incredibly consistent performer.

Contributing intelligent forward passes and well-honed technique as well as defensive fortitude, the Frenchman was the ideal Premier League midfielder at Selhurst Park. 

His statistics reveal the exceptional impact he had at Palace Not only did Cabaye lead all Eagles in interceptions last season, he bested all other players in the Premier League, with the exception of N’Golo Kante.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

That stunning accolade reveals how good Cabaye was, as he not only excelled at club level, but was among the best at snuffing out play in the entire division.

It is this elite level of performance that makes his transfer to Al Nasr even the more baffling.

Why leave Palace on good form when he had established himself as an integral part of the team? And why depart to the Arabian Gulf League of all places?

Cabaye clearly could have been a key cog in Roy Hodgson’s set-up next season, and would have been crucial to Palace’s attempt to break into the top half of the Premier League.

Yet, instead, he will be plying his trade in a division that would be generously described as a glorified retirement league. 

Sadly, one must assume the decision boiled down to money, as it can be inferred the 32-year-old will be bringing home a hefty paycheck from the Dubai-based club.

Cabaye’s decision to not renew his contract at Selhurst Park and instead set sail for the Arabian Gulf League is hugely disappointing, providing another example of the money-motivated environment of modern football.

Max is a journalist studying at the University of Pennsylvania. Max specialises in English football and co-hosts a weekly podcast. He is also a politics reporter and deputy news editor for The Daily Pennsylvanian.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. ohmy god its going tobe a crap season again

    July 6, 2018 at 8:29 am

    its because steve parish fancies himself as a wheeler dealer, hes a Croydon wide boy snd needs to grow up.
    either cabaye is good enough in which case pay him more to stay for a two year period whilst you blood youth or save funds to replace the equivalent of a 25 million pound player,
    or hes not good enough in which case release him because you have someone better or funds for someone better
    don’t try and do a deal because he will only play 25 games it doesn’t make any business sense what so ever. especially as you will probably have to find funds to replace a 40 million pound player in loftus cheek.
    I doubt we have 70 million spare to replace both.
    the mans a fool and will get us relegated because of his wanna be gangsta attitude

  2. Jake

    July 6, 2018 at 8:31 am

    Because he was out of contract at Palace and was offered reduced terms to stay. He wanted one final large payday at the end of his career. Not hard to work out why he went.

  3. Lawro

    July 6, 2018 at 10:09 am

    The problem with that is that the stats don’t tell it all. Yeah he has impressive stats, but after about 60 minutes he really started to slow down (I know as I’m a Palace season ticket holder) and not be as effective as he was earlier in the game. Palace want someone who can keep going throughout the game.

    Palace did offer him less money than he was on and I would imagine less game time too. I don’t begrudge him going off for one last payday, he’s been a great player for Palace over the last 3 years. This is his chance to get some more decent money and actual time on the pitch.

  4. Will

    July 6, 2018 at 1:43 pm

    Now I don’t know if you watched many games last season (full games) but you would see that yes, even though Cabaye was a integral part of Hodgson’s team, Cabaye was struggling with fitness and it was hard to see him going through a full season and being able to last the full 90 mins. Due to this and the fact he is 32 – I do not blame Cabaye going abroad and getting 1 last big slip before retirement. He was a great player for Palace and a lot of fans are gutted, but I fully understand why he would want to go.

    Advantage for Palace if that it is a £100k a week player off the books and considering Palace are restrained by wage structure laws, this could help in bringing in well needed squad players to avoid injury crises next season.

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Crystal Palace

Khouma Babacar would be underwhelming solution to Crystal Palace’s striker problem

The 25-year-old isn’t exactly a prolific goalscorer.

Max Cohen

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Babacar
Photo: Getty Images

According to the Mirror, Crystal Palace are close to completing a £12 million move for Sassuolo striker Khouma Babacar.

The Senegalese forward scored just six goals in the league last season and would represent an underwhelming solution to Crystal Palace’s striker problem.

Last season, the Eagles struggled massively for goals, with only central midfielder Luka Milivojevic reaching double figures in the league. As for strikers, Christian Benteke scored just three goals in a hugely disappointing year, and Alexander Sorloth failed to score in his four appearances.

It is clear the south Londoners desperately need a prolific centre-forward in order to succeed in 2018/19, yet Babacar simply is not the right choice.

(Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images)

At 25 years of age, he has already been around Italian football for a long time, making his debut for Fiorentina in 2009 as a 16-year-old. Yet he struggled to nail down a starting spot and spent time on loan in Serie B and La Liga before enjoying a breakout season for Fiorentina 2016/17.

In that year, he banged in 10 goals in 22 league appearances while also netting four times in the Europa League. Yet disappointingly, he scored just four times in the first half of 2017/18, before being shipped off to Sassuolo on loan where he found the net on just two occasions in 13 appearances.

Far from an outstanding goalscorer in Italy, it is unclear where Babacar would fit in at Palace, and it is unlikely he could turn around the fortunes of the club’s struggling strike force.

Roy Hodgson would do well to pass on the signing of the £12 million Senegalese international and focus his efforts on a more proven striker with a better goal record.

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Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace fans should praise Roy Hodgson’s defiant Andros Townsend comments

The winger has been attracting interest from Premier League rivals.

Max Cohen

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Andros Townsend
Photo: Getty Images

In early July, Sky Sports reported Newcastle United were in talks with Crystal Palace winger Andros Townsend over a return to St. James’ Park.

Yet, Roy Hodgson’s defiant comments have quashed those rumours and will be greeted by Palace fans as a strong signal to other clubs who have aimed to buy the Eagles’ best players.

Speaking in a press conference (h/t football.london) over the weekend, the Palace manager made it clear he had no intention of selling his key squad members.

“[Townsend] has got three years on his contract, and we have no interest at all in selling Andros Townsend. We are not a selling club at the moment, far from it.

“We are working very hard to keep the players we have got, and players of big importance, and Zaha and Townsend are right up there as players we want to keep.”

(Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

Hodgson deserves praise for this strong stance, as he is sending a clear signal to rival clubs who aim to pinch settled players.

Townsend was crucial to the club’s resurgence last season under Roy Hodgson, and after Bakary Sako’s departure, the need to hold on to attackers is even more important.

By rebutting the advances of Newcastle and clubs interested in Wilfried Zaha, Hodgson not only boosts the confidence of the fans, but also the Palace players.

Knowing that your club aims to hold on to your fellow teammates means the side will be better and more exciting to play for.

Hodgson has already saved Crystal Palace from relegation, and now his stewardship can lead the club to the top half of the Premier League by keeping hold of the Eagles’ star performers.

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One winner and one loser as Bakary Sako rejects new Crystal Palace contract

The 30-year-old has rejected a new deal at Selhurst Park.

Max Cohen

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Bakary Sako
Photo: Getty Images

Earlier this week, Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson confirmed that winger Bakary Sako had rejected a new contract at the club.

The news came as a shock for many supporters, as Sako enjoyed a bright 2017/18 season at Selhurst Park and the club wanted to secure his services for the immediate future.

Sako is set to lose out from rejecting a new contract at the Premier League club, but one player who could be poised to benefit is rumoured transfer target Ollie Watkins.

Winner: Ollie Watkins 

According to The Sun, the 22-year-old Brentford winger has been linked with an eight million pound switch to south London, and Palace will be sure to pursue his signature even more vigorously after losing out on Sako.

Watkins is a dangerous winger who impressed last season at Griffin Park, scoring ten goals and notching five assists in 45 appearances for the Championship club.

A move to the Premier League beckons for the exciting winger, and due to Sako’s rejection of his contract, Watkins is set to benefit and could fill the Malian’s void.

(during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Burnley at Selhurst Park on January 13, 2018 in London, England.

Loser: Bakary Sako 

Just as teammate Yohan Cabaye bafflingly failed to extend his contract at Selhurst Park, Bakary Sako is set to make the same misguided decision.

At 30 years of age, few Premier League clubs are set to offer the Malian international a chance to play at the highest level. Palace had gifted Sako with a perfect opportunity to play more years in the top flight, but Sako turned them down.

His decision is especially confusing given the good form Sako had last season, scoring crucial goals against WatfordLeicesterBurnley, and Brighton from December to January before succumbing to injury.

A fan favourite at Selhurst Park, Sako will be missed both on and off the pitch, making his departure all the more foolish.

 

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