Pic Credits- Richard.Fisher
Crystal Palace have quickly cemented themselves as a Premier League club over the last two seasons, with a slight hiccup initially that was resolved by the appointment of Tony Pulis. Now under the stewardship of Alan Pardew, Palace are really looking like a side that can start challenging at the top of the table. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them in Europe in the next two seasons. So far Pardew seems to be using this transfer window to show his intent and is already making some very big moves.
When Pardew joined Palace last season they were playing badly and were amongst the teams fighting against relegation. With a swift turnaround Pardew had the team playing a totally different kind of football and really got the best out of Jason Puncheon, Yannick Bolasie, Wilfried Zaha and Glenn Murray, who became an attack force to be reckoned with. They didn’t stay relegation contenders for long and ended up with a respectable finish in a highly competitive league. If they had managed to play like that for the whole season they would have secured a place in Europe. So it is not totally out of the question to suggest that a finish in the European places could be on the cards for them this season. Pardew has already landed a serious transfer with the midfield playmaker Yohan Cabaye who will add some quality to the squad.
Cabaye played under Pardew at Newcastle and in three seasons there scored 17 goals and got 14 assists. His form in the North East attracted interest from many big clubs and Paris Saint-Germain swooped in and paid £19million for him. This is certainly a signing that will add great quality to the midfield at Palace, and is already being dubbed by some as the best transfer coup so far this summer. With some other big deals already done elsewhere, Arsenal and Manchester United fans could certainly make cases to contest that statement, with their acquisitions of Petr Cech and Bastian Schweinsteiger respectively. Even so, Cabaye is a world-class national team player and there is no doubt that he can push The Eagles up a notch. Having previous Premier League experience and also a past relationship with the manager should mean his transition back into English football is a smooth one.
Pardew is also said to be looking to bolster his attacking options. Although Murray showed some promise towards the end of last season, they need a more potent attacking threat if they are to challenge at the top. Charlie Austin could be the man for the job, with Palace reportedly showing interest in the striker who took the Premier League by storm last season.
The 26-year-old QPR forward looks like he’s just reaching his prime, and has attracted a lot of interest from big clubs. Although QPR were relegated at the end of last season Austin held up his end of the bargain and put in a massive 18 goals (see below) in 35 appearances for the struggling side. That’s pretty impressive. If he had some decent support behind him and became the spearhead of an attack that consisted of Bolasie, Puncheon and Zaha, one could imagine him putting in an even bigger return. Last season wasn’t just a one off either, with him scoring 17 goals in the Championship in the previous campaign and helping his team achieve promotion.
Whoever gets Austin this season will be getting a striker at the top of his game, which is why QPR are valuing him at around £15million. This seems like a steal, though, when compared to Raheem Sterling’s move to Manchester City that equated to nearly £50million, and a lot of Premier League clubs have entered the bidding war to sign the QPR forward.
Although Pardew has already tried to make an offer of some players-plus-cash for Austin, it is looking like Palace may have to duck out of the race to sign the striker as the money men at Selhurst Park don’t want to meet the £15million valuation of the player. At the time of writing betfair have Austin at 4/1 to be at Palace after the transfer window closes, with Newcastle and West Ham on the same odds.
So if Pardew doesn’t get this signature who else does that leave? Rumour has it that French striker Loic Remy is another potential transfer target. It is understood that Remy wants more game time after barely being used last season by Jose Mourinho at Chelsea. And now that Chelsea have signed Radamel Falcao on a season loan deal it looks like Remy’s playing time could be affected even more. This is not really the ideal situation for a striker who was at the top of his game before moving to Stamford Bridge, and a player who wants to ensure first-team football in the upcoming Euros. Pardew and Remy have worked together in the past, when he joined Newcastle on a season-long loan in 2013. The Frenchman scored 14 goals in 26 league games that season and proved to be a great signing. Other clubs such as West Ham have shown an interest in Remy, and Mourinho doesn’t want to sell him. But the Chelsea manager has said before that if a player wants to leave then he will not stand in their way.
Besiktas are also showing interest in Remy and it seems more likely that Chelsea would let him go there, rather than to a direct competitor. West Ham and Palace remain the favourites in the Premier League, though. The Hammers can offer European football so they could have the edge.
Whatever happens, Pardew is beginning to make his presence known at Selhurst Park. After all those years of being unappreciated at Newcastle, he is at a place where the fans love him now. If he continues to make progress this season, his status as a legend there will grow even more. The remaining few weeks of this transfer window should be interesting for Palace fans, and they should expect another big name to join them soon.