Crystal Palace transfer target Gregory van der Wiel has completed a surprising move to Serie A side Cagliari from Fenerbahçe for an undisclosed fee.
The former Paris Saint-Germain and Dutch international, 29, leaves the Turkish capital after just one season. He is a product of the famous Ajax academy after featuring in the first-team for five years under coaches including Palace boss Frank de Boer.
With 46 caps to his name, van der Wiel has been a regular at right-back for his club and country. After four successful seasons in Paris, the defender has decided for yet another fresh challenge abroad. He was rumoured to be one of Frank de Boer’s key transfer targets when he arrived at Selhurst Park at the end of June.
Offering bags of pace, composure and quality down the right-hand side, van der Wiel is very much the definition of the modern-day full-back. As exciting as he is on the attack, he has declined in his defensive abilities hence his spiral downwards from top-level football in Amsterdam and Paris. Istanbul represented another quality move, but the Turkish club’s willingness to allow van der Wiel to move on to measly Cagliari epitomises his current level.
At the age of 29 years old and a stage where the player has lost his international recognition, Palace may have sensibly avoided taking a gamble on a once so dazzling footballer. Starting in the 2010 World Cup final defeat to Spain, van der Wiel’s pedigree has never been doubted. Yet, with Palace’s new transfer strategy of building a squad for the future, van der Wiel’s profile would’ve only offered experience not potential.
A bullet dodged by the Eagles? After missing out on van der Wiel’s Dutch counterpart and future replacement Kenny Tete to Olympique Lyonnais, Palace have a race against time to find a suitable full-back. Depending on priorities, keeping Timothy Fosu-Mensah would be a viable option if it meant Joel Ward was dropped. Get that cheque book out Mr. Parish, it’s fast approaching a disaster.