A month after the summer transfer window opened, Crystal Palace have now completed the deal for the much-talked-about signing of the central defensive midfielder, Cheick Doucoure. The 22-year-old Mali international joins from the French side Lens on a 5-year deal with the final price at £18 million, plus add-ons.
Patrick Vieira and the Palace board had made him the primary target in this transfer window as it looks like Kouyate will be leaving on a free transfer, possibly to Saudi Arabian club Al-Ittihad. Plus, there’s also talk that club captain Milivojevic could leave this summer too although he’s travelled with the squad to Singapore and Australia for the pre-season tour.
Doucoure will get a lot of game time in the defensive midfield role especially now that James McArthur has been ruled out for the start of the season.
Palace had a bid of £14.5 million rejected earlier in the summer, but they were determined to get their man and have now forked out the price tag that the French Ligue 1 side asked for, plus add-ons.
Here is what the player and club chairman had to say upon signing the deal.
Doucouré said: “I’m very happy, I feel a lot of joy and a lot of pride to be a Palace player. I’m proud to be at Palace today.”
Chairman Steve Parish said: “Cheick’s arrival is yet another statement of intent, demonstrating our ambition to further improve the squad this summer.
“We are extremely confident that Cheick will adapt seamlessly to the rigours of the Premier League and that he will contribute positively to the squad, and I wish him all the very best for his time with us.”
The fact that Palace have signed three midfielders since January makes us think that Conor Gallagher is set to stay at Chelsea. Though, there is talk of bringing Chelsea defender Levi Colwill to Selhurst Park on a loan or permanent deal. Another centre-back is needed in case Guehi or Andersen gets injured.
Christian Benteke Departs After 6 Years at Palace
After reports that Christian Benteke was set to join Premier League rivals Wolves, it was announced just before the Arsenal match that he’s signed for MLS side D.C. United. Benteke joined the Eagles back in 2016 from Liverpool for a club-record fee of £32.5 million.
During his six years at the club, the Belgian scored 37 goals in 177 appearances. Though, the introduction of Jean-Philippe Mateta and Odsonne Edouard meant that he had less game time last season.
With only a year left on his contract, Palace would’ve wanted to get some money for him rather than letting him leave on a free transfer next year. Patrick Vieira made it sound like it was mainly the player’s choice in his post-match press conference after the match with Arsenal, but it was probably mutual.
“This is something he wanted to do. When players want to play, and you can’t guarantee them time or games, you have to let them go,”
“Christian spent six years at this football club, and he was fantastic for the football club. This is something he wanted to do, and we wish him all the best.”
We can’t see Palace bringing in another striker as Vieira likes to play Zaha as the sole forward sometimes and then there’s obviously Matetea and Edouard. Luke Plange might even get a chance upfront, we’ll have to wait and see.
Here’s a post from Benteke’s Instagram showing his highlights from a decade in the Premier League. He’ll now play for former Manchester United legend, Wayne Rooney, who is managing D.C. United.
Chairman Steve Parish commented on the news: “Christian has played a crucial role in this club’s Premier League journey, making an immediate impact after signing and playing a central role in the squad ever since.
“He’s someone I’ve enjoyed a great relationship with and he’s shown incredible loyalty staying with the club when he could easily have taken other options. We all wish him all the very best with the next stage of his career.”
Chris Richards Signs on 5-Year Deal From Bayern Munich
Palace have made their fourth signing of the summer transfer window bringing in American defender Chris Richards from Bayern Munich. The 22-year-old had been linked with the Eagles for over a month and now the £11 million deal has been finalised.
Richards is originally from Alabama but made the move to Germany in 2018 after impressing on a 10-day trial at the Bundesliga title winners. During this time he played the Bayern Munich second team and was loaned out to 1899 Hoffenheim for a season and a half. He made five appearances for the first team during his four years at the club, but is clearly looking for regular football, especially as it’s a World Cup year.
Richards is naturally a centre-back, but he can play as a right-back as well. Palace were always in for a new centre-back to take the pressure of off Guehi and Andersen, but how the three will fit in the starting lineup is a challenge for Vieira. Some fans are thinking that he’ll now switch to a back three with two wing-backs, but we’ll have to wait and see.
The player was excited to sign for the south London club saying: “I grew up watching the Premier League and grew up of course watching [Wilfried] Zaha, so it’ll be cool to spend some time on the field with them [the Palace players] and be a part of this historic club. I’m really excited for it.
“The kind of project I’ve seen [attracted me]. It’s a lot of young players but also young players who have a lot of fight. Palace is a club that seems like they’re always fighting.”
Chairman Steve Parish said: “Chris is a hugely talented young player, and he brings a lot of experience at a high level for his age, as well being an established International for the USA national side.
“I had the great pleasure of spending some time with him and his family yesterday and I know he will be a great fit for the club and I’m sure will become a firm fans’ favourite. Competition can only drive him and our squad on.”
Mourinho Interested in Taking Zaha to Roma
Social media transfer guru, Fabrizio Romano, tweeted on Friday that Jose Mourinho and the Roma Board are interested in bringing Wilfried Zaha to the Italian capital. Every summer there are rumours that clubs come in for Zaha, but since returning from Manchester United a deal hasn’t been found with another club.
AS Roma are considering to make a move for Wilfried Zaha. No official bid yet – but he’s really appreciated by club board and José Mourinho. 🔴 #ASRoma— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) July 8, 2022
No discussions opened with Crystal Palace, still early stages – option now considered internally. @SkySport
Crystal Palace rejected a £40m bid from Premier League rivals Arsenal back in 2019 and never came back with a counter-bid that summer or in future years. With only one year left on his contract, the club may decide to cash in on the Palace academy graduate before he’s able to leave on a free next summer.
Palace manager Patrick Vieira made it clear last season that Zaha is a key player for the team and that he wants him to continue working with him. He was the Eagles’ top goalscorer last season with 15 goals in the Premier League and 5 in all other competitions. Palace’s strikers will have to produce more goals if he was to leave the club this summer.
At the end of the recent season Vieira said the following about the Ivorian winger: “When you talk about Crystal Palace, you talk about Wilfried Zaha,”
“He’s been at this club, and he’s been doing fantastically well. And again, as a manager, of course, I would love to keep him, but he needs to want to be here.
“This season, I think he showed to everybody what this football club means to him because he’s been performing well and scoring goals. I believe that he can still take himself to a different level and help the team to grow.”
Zaha is Palace through and through having been with the club since he was young. He’s talked a lot about how great he thinks the Palace fans and his love for the club. This was evident in the When Eagles Dare documentary and would have given hope to the club and fans that he’ll stay in south London for as long as he can.
Tammy Abraham was given a new lease of life playing under the former Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham manager at Roma last season. Zaha could see this as his chance to perform on a bigger stage if an offer does come in.
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