Yesterday, news came through of Crystal Palace’s confirmed 25 man Premier League squad. Only 24 of the available slots were taken, leaving the door open for a free agent to fill the quota. Listed below are four of the key players who are currently without a club that could enhance Palace’s squad.
Free Agents Crystal Palace Should Sign
The most glaringly obvious gap in the Eagles’ personnel are the striking options. Christian Benteke is the only established centre forward in the squad. Thus, an injury could be fatal for Palace’s chances this season.
Diabaté would offer sufficient cover for Benteke, and is of a very similar mould to the Belgian striker. Thriving on aerial duels, the 6’4 target man wouldn’t alter Palace’s style of play which would offer continuity in this period of learning under Frank de Boer.
He has a very respectable scoring record in Ligue 1 as well. He notched 58 goals in 143 appearances, with the bulk of these for Bordeaux. Also, he offers some degree of European pedigree, with five goals in 15 Europa League matches. The Malian international seems to be a viable option if the unthinkable ever did happen to Benteke.
The downside to Diabaté is de Boer’s tactics. Benteke has been rendered ineffective in the first three games of the season due to the lack of crosses into the penalty area. It is highly unlikely that the Dutchman would sign a carbon copy of a forward that doesn’t seem to fit into his system.
However, with de Boer’s job security remaining unstable, this is one that a future manager could seriously consider. Eight goals in 14 appearances on loan at FC Metz last season suggests Diabaté’s career is far from over. At 29, he still has something to give.
Unlike Diabaté, Rossi would offer a discernible alternative to the threat that Benteke possesses. Standing at around 5’6, the lack of aerial balls would not bother him in the slightest.
A clinical finisher, who can deliver a key pass in the final third, Rossi looks to be an exciting option for Palace. He could play alongside or behind Benteke, as well as fulfilling the central striking role by himself.
The Italian possesses another respectable scoring record with 127 goals in 324 career appearances, mainly for Villarreal and the club who just released him, Fiorentina.
He is a very mobile attacker who could help link the two halves of the team together which Palace have struggled with thus far. Often dropping off deep, he could be a perfect fit for the 3-4-3 that de Boer seems to crave.
However, several recurring injury problems have affected Rossi’s career over the last few seasons, with the current cruciate ligament rupture keeping the Italian out of action until early October. Palace cannot afford another injury prone option following the Loic Remy debacle last season.
With Connor Wickham firmly planted on the treatment table until 2018, this one could be too much of a gamble for the South Londoners. If Rossi stays healthy, though, he appears to be the most appealing option on the free agents list due to his quality and the fact that he is still only 30 years old. A lot of the other unattached players are in the twilight of their careers.
Having made his senior debut against Palace in the League Cup in 2004 for Manchester United, could he come full circle?
Another that could come full circle is 35 year-old goalkeeper Carrasso. Having made his senior debut for Palace in the 2001-02 season on loan from Marseille, the Frenchman could potentially offer healthy competition to current number one Wayne Hennessey.
The goalkeeping department has been a sore point at Palace over the duration of Palace’s Premier League stay. Club hero Julian Speroni’s powers were waning following promotion. The Mandanda experiment didn’t pay off last season. The Selhurst Park faithful have never really been on board with Hennessey due to his indecisiveness and occasional glaring errors.
Carrasso would certainly be an experienced, dependable signing. At his peak he made one appearance for the French national team indicating that he does possess some ability considering his competition was Hugo Lloris.
It is a mystery that he is still without a club as he can still perform adequately, with one of the main features of his play coming through his reflexes and shot-stopping.
On the other hand, this possible link is due to Palace’s weakness rather than Carrasso’s current qualities. He is the best goalkeeper on the free agents list, but there is not an extensive choice.
Still, he would challenge Hennessey more than Speroni does. He represents a risk-free purchase for Palace if they can’t find a striker to fill the last available slot.
Considering Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend occupy the roles on the wing, Sen may seem like an unnecessary inclusion. However, observing how scarce Zaha’s recent injury left Palace in the attacking department, it could be a very shrewd acquisition.
According to reports in Turkey, a deal was in the process of being made between Fenerbahce and Crystal Palace for Sen earlier this summer. This may be the likeliest of all the free agents to materialise.
He offers a versatile back up for Zaha or Townsend as he can play either side. He has even operated as a centre forward which would make him invaluable cover. Considering he represented the Turkish national team at Euro 2016, it is strange to see his name on the list.
Sen possesses good dribbling abilities and acceleration, which are akin to a lot of the wing-play that Palace fans have been spoilt with over the last six or so years.
There are question marks over his willingness to relocate, as he has spent all his career in the Turkish leagues. His goalscoring record may be a worry as well. He has only five goals in 49 games in his most recent stint with Fenerbahce. It isn’t imperative to score many more than that as a winger. But, one of his supposed strengths is his long-range shooting so it doesn’t bode well.
To be frank, Palace need any half-decent attacking options to bolster the squad. Sen definitely fits this criteria, as do Diabaté and Rossi. One of these four players could be the man that Palace fans see fill the 25th spot within the squad to help prevent a relegation battle.
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