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.  

Is This The Player Crystal Palace Need as Their 25th Man?

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.

 

Palace Beat The Deadline To Sign Sakho

Crystal Palace beat the transfer deadline after agreeing a £26 million fee with Liverpool for the transfer of number one transfer target Mamadou Sakho.

The 27 year-old French international completed his medical late last night and signed a four-year deal with the South Londoners. He becomes Frank de Boer’s fourth and final signing of a difficult transfer window for the Eagles.

Palace spent much of the summer refusing to pay up the £30 million Liverpool asked for Sakho and nearly missed out on the central defender altogether. The transfer wasn’t announced until 2am Friday morning, with a prospective deal for Everton striker Oumane Niasse also falling through.

The capture of last season’s cult hero is obviously the transfer Palace fans all craved, but it’s a bitter sweet feeling given how poorly backed the new manager has been in the market. Failures to sign a new goalkeeper and a backup striker leave Palace dangerously on the verge of crisis. Sakho is a man mountain saviour who will give everybody a huge boost, but he shouldn’t be expected to be the sole answer to all our troubles. Palace have fallen way short of expectations this summer and have arguably had the worst transfer activity in the Premier League. All four signings have been positive, but they do not represent what the new manager wants and we may see de Boer leaving stupendously early. #TheSoldierIsBack

 

Liverpool Break Club Record To Land Keita

 

Liverpool have finally completed the club-record signing of long-term transfer target Naby Keita from Red Bull Leipzig for £48 million, but he won’t officially play for the Reds until July 1st next summer.

The Guinea international central-midfield player will pen a lengthy contract at Anfield after agreeing personal terms. The Reds will pay the German club an undisclosed premium on top of the £48 million release clause they activated to guarantee the transfer a year early.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will be delighted to land a player he has craved all summer long, after Leipzig rejected bigger bids from the Merseyside outfit to take the player immediately. At one stage, Liverpool were prepared to pay in excess of £70 million for Keita but they have still broken their club-record by waiting a year for his release clause to come into effect. Rumours in the press believe the undisclosed premium is around £7 million, which means Liverpool have actually saved money by agreeing a deal totaling just £55 million in comparison.

 

Palace Transfer Target Joins Cagliari

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.

Palace Miss Out On Signing Leipzig Winger

Crystal Palace have been dealt another blow in the transfer market after Red Bull Leipzig winger Oliver Burke completed a £15 million switch to Premier League rivals West Bromwich Albion.

Reports yesterday emerged that the 20-year old Scotland international was undergoing a medical at the West Midlands club’s training ground, after Leipzig agreed to sanction the transfer of the player. Burke will go straight into the Baggies squad ahead of their derby with neighbours Stoke City on Sunday.

The former Nottingham Forest player returns to English football just one year after completing a surprising move to Germany. West Brom are believed to have paid in a similar region to the transfer fee Leipzig paid Forest in the summer of 2016.

Yet another negative blow in an extremely depressing transfer market for Palace as the deadline ever approaches. Without any clear cut news, it must be said the Eagles are in for a difficult battle with relegation this season.

Fosu-Mensah Seals Palace Loan Switch

Crystal Palace have confirmed the signing of Manchester United defender Timothy Fosu-Mensah on a season-long loan deal.

The former Ajax teenager links up again with Frank de Boer and will go straight into the Palace squad for the season opener against Huddersfield Town on Saturday. He has trained with new team-mates for the majority of the week and is raring to go after a full pre-season with United.

Fosu-Mensah told the official Palace website: “The manager spoke to me about coming down to join Crystal Palace and it was clear that he wanted me to be part of his squad which as a player gives you a great feeling straight away and I must now repay that back by putting in some good performances for the club.”

The Dutchman becomes de Boer’s third summer signing as he overhauls the team with his new blueprint. Speaking in response to capturing Fosu-Mensah, the Palace manager was pleased with the versatility the 19 year old would offer his side.

“Timothy is a player who has great pace and incredible physical ability. In today’s game you need players with strength and speed and he is an individual with that and as well as defence can also play in midfield.
“From knowing him at Ajax I can remember he was always playing in the team above for his age due to be physically very strong. His quality attracted a number of other clubs and I was very sad and disappointed when we lost him at a young age to go to Manchester United.”

De Boer has closely been monitoring Fosu-Mensah since his move to Old Trafford in 2014, and isn’t surprised by his progress into the first-team. Contrary to expectation from Palace fans, it seems more likely the United man will be used as the right-sided centre-back instead of the seemingly vacant right-wing back role.

“Under Louis Van Gaal a couple of years ago he made his debut and I have been keeping a check on his progress and he’s ready to play game in the Premier League and that is why I am pleased to have brought him to Crystal Palace.

“I am seeing him in our system as a right centre back but he can also play full back in a 4-3-3. It is always nice as a manager to have a player who can play in more than one position so that you get the quality across the squad.”

Fosu-Mensah will wear the number 24 shirt for the forthcoming season and he isn’t entirely a stranger to the Palace squad. Eagles assistant boss Orlando Trustfull was a key figure in his development through troubled times in the Ajax youth system.

He said of Trustfull: “I had good times there but I remember I found it difficult to start with and Orlando helped me enormously on and off the pitch and looking back to those days, even though I am still young, I have certainly changed from how I was in those days.

“Player wise I know Jairo, Patrick and also Reuben and Jason Lokilo from playing against him when I was at the Ajax academy.”

Talking of his experiences at United and the years following his arrival as a 16 year old from Ajax, Fosu-Mensah is proud of his progress but well aware he has a long way to go.

“In the early stages after I joined I found it difficult to settle but I soon got to know a lot of the players and it was not long before I felt at home.

“It has been very good for my development and they have a manager in Jose Mourinho who creates a winning mentality and he has really helped my progress.

“ Here at Palace I am looking forward to playing games on a regular basis and develop my game and I will listen to the management team as I am eager to learn every single day”.

An extremely promising signing for Palace considering his strong involvement in a United team full of expensive, experienced individuals. His versatility in defence and midfield should leave us with more squad depth and an eye on the future. Let’s hope he has a blinder but somehow we keep this incredible prospect. COYP.