Crystal Palace are expected to sign a free agent in the coming days after releasing goalkeeper Kleton Perntreou to allow room for one more player in the 25-man Premier League squad, but who will the Eagles opt for?
After a disastrous transfer window ending with Palace missing out on Everton striker Oumane Niasse, the South Londoners know they remain light in more than one key area. As important as a new goalkeeper and another right-back would have been, it’s in the forward positions Palace are struggling for depth in.
Incredibly, Christian Benteke is the only fit first-team striker in the Palace squad after backup options were allowed to leave on loan and Connor Wickham remains sidelined until the new year. Niasse’s late-night transfer reeked of desperation, but his addition would have eased the lack of depth issue. Instead, Palace must now find a suitable candidate for regular Premier League football and provide valuable competition for the Belgian striker.
As near impossible as it would be to find somebody as good as Benteke, somebody must be found who can at least provide a spark off the bench or fill the void if (God forbidding) the star man was injured. Free agent strikers are few and far between but the current list includes the notable ex Manchester United and Villarreal forward Giuseppe Rossi, who is without a club after suffering a serious injury on loan at Celta Vigo from Fiorentina last campaign. The Florence club will probably have preferred to keep the talented Italian, but his injury means he would be an unrealistic target for any club to take on just yet.
With limited possibilities left outside the window, one other name of any real prestige stands out for Palace. Mali striker Cheick Diabate was let go by Turkish club Osmanlıspor after his loan deal at Ligue 1 side FC Metz expired. Despite a successful spell of eight goals in fourteen appearances in France, the player hasn’t found a club yet. His international pedigree, target man style and excellent goal scoring ratio across his career make him hot property for a 29 year-old. Averaging a goal every two games and scoring 66 goals in 152 games for French giants Bordeaux, he would be an astute signing for any club still in need of real quality.
Diabate seems the best possible signing for Palace at this moment in time. All things considered, having one fit striker is more concerning than having two experienced goalkeepers. Bacary Sagna would ideally be the perfect addition, but due to Wickham’s absence, Benteke needs help in a struggling Palace attack. Let’s hope it happens! COYP.