The Lost Eleven – What Could’ve Been For Frank de Boer

After the Dutch revolution was brutally put down through the sacking of its visionary Frank de Boer, it’s damning to see what could have been had the Dutchman got his own way in the transfer market. For a man who clearly wasn’t backed by the board and left to hang out to dry, let’s have a look at the team he could have formed through the players he wanted to sign.

Michel Vorm – Spurs number two Vorm was linked with Palace towards the end of the window, but you would bet he was on de Boer’s list from the start. After Wayne Hennessey’s dodgy start to the season, the Dutch manager will be ruing not being able to bring in a new keeper instead.

Kenny Tete – Ajax right-back Tete was heavily linked with Palace before he made a move to Champions League outfit Lyon. At around 3 million euros, the Dutch international would have represented great business to replace another poor performer this season in Joel Ward. 

Calum Chambers – Palace reportedly had a £16 million bid rejected by Arsenal for the 22 year-old centre-back in July. With a compromise greatly expected to be reached, the move never materialised before Leicester City had a £20 million bid rejected towards the end of the window. A ball-playing versatile prospect, Chambers would have perfectly suited de Boer’s passing out style of play from the back. 

Bruno Martins Indi – With Stoke City stalling over making his move permanent, Martins Indi became a realistic target for Palace’s Dutch revolution. For a measly £7 million pounds, the FC Porto defender finally rejoined his loan side after a highly successful spell last season. Much like Sakho with Palace, Martins Indi was always going to take some persuading to turn down a return to a place where he was greatly appreciated.

Gregory van der Wiel – Palace’s recruitment for left-backs Jeffrey Schlupp and Patrick van Aanholt in January meant it was no longer an area for strengthening. Along with Pape Souare’s miraculous return, Palace were well-covered. However, another right-back who was strongly linked in the window was 29 year-old Dutch international Gregory van der Wiel. Once again for a very minimal fee, he eventually traded Fenerbahçe for Cagliari after Palace’s interest failed to materialise. 

Timothy Fosu-Mensah – Manchester United youngster Timothy Fosu-Mensah was allowed to join up with de Boer’s men on the eve of the new season. Expected to play at right-back due to his pace and power, de Boer instead played his former Ajax trainee at centre-back in a back three. However, with a shift in formation, the 19 year-old Dutch international would have perfectly stepped up to midfield duties.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek – As a highly-promising talent retained by Antonio Conte in last season’s title truimph, Loftus-Cheek’s bold and adventurous passing style made him an astute loan capture from London neighbours Chelsea. Playing in a midfield three, the England Under 21 international is competent in both defensive and attacking duties. 

Jairo Riedewald – The one permanent signing de Boer made, Riedewald represents the youthful vision he had for his long-term Palace project. At around £8 million pounds, the 20 year-old would probably have been shifted to midfield had Palace managed to sign Sakho or Martins Indi earlier.

Oliver Burke – The former Nottingham Forest man was a target for Palace last summer before he joined German outfit Red Bull Leipzig. Yet just a year later, the Champions League side have cut their losses and sold him on to West Bromwich Albion. At around £15 million pounds, the highly-rated Scottish prospect would not have come cheap. Frank de Boer confirmed his interest in the press before the move, but even with the 20 year-old’s former Forest boss Dougie Freedman returning to SE25, he never came.

Munir El Haddadi – FC Barcelona winger Munir was made available for loan by the Catalan giants, but he eventually joined Deportivo Alavés for the season after Palace’s interest cooled. It was potentially a difficult deal to pull off, but de Boer’s strong ties with Barcelona would’ve interested the one-time Spain international. AS Roma were expected to make a huge bid, but much like with Burke, Palace didn’t have the cash to compete.

Luciano Vietto – Clutching at straws but there were media reports that de Boer was looking for a forward in the mould of Atletico forward Luciano Vietto. An Argentinian international with huge pedigree in La Liga, the 23 year-old has struggled in Madrid after his move from Villarreal two years ago. Palace desperately needed an alternative to Benteke and Vietto would have been able to inject pace in behind defences for de Boer.  

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