Source: Mamadou Sakho’s official Twitter page
Crystal Palace have made a hugely disappointing start to the 2017-18 Premier League campaign. The Eagles narrowly avoided relegation to the Championship at the end of last season, and the fans must have been expecting the club to change things in 2017-18. Palace are a big club in London and Selhurst Park has one of the best atmospheres in the Premier League but results on the pitch have been hugely disappointing so far this season.
Having appointed a new manager in Frank de Boer, who won four successive Eredivisie titles with Ajax in the Netherlands, Palace must have been hoping and expecting a pretty straightforward victory over Huddersfield Town at Selhurst Park on the opening weekend of the 2017-18 Premier League campaign but the home fans were in for a shock. The newly promoted club hammered the Eagles 3-0 in London. Huddersfield had a better pre-season, had made their signings quite early in the summer transfer window and had a settled manager in David Wagner, but the fact that the Terriers were not being backed for a win on Oddschecker.com tells the story.
Then came the 1-0 defeat to Liverpool away from home at Anfield. Winning against the Reds away from home is never easy, and not many Palace fans would have expected the team to get anything from the match. However, the manner in which De Boer’s side lost all three points must have left a bad taste in the mouth. After holding on for a long period, Palace conceded the only goal of the match in the 73rd minute.
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Four goals in two matches – three at home – highlight the problem that Palace have in defence. Given the nature of the Premier League and the open-mindedness of the teams, Palace will get chances to score, but until and unless they stop shipping in goals, they could once again get dragged into the relegation fight. Given De Boer’s inexperience in the Premier League, the Eagles will not want that. The Dutchman is no Sam Allardyce, who is a specialist in keeping teams up in the top flight of English football.
The defeats against Huddersfield and Liverpool have underlined the need for Palace to sign a central defender. While there are not too many quality centre-backs in the market, there is one player who is available, and he actually is open to joining the Eagles. Mamadou Sakho was a massive success during his loan spell at Palace during the second half of last season. The 27-year-old centre-back was a key figure under Allardyce, and his performances at the back were a major reason why the Eagles could retain their Premier League status for the 2017-18 campaign.
Liverpool are ready to sell Sakho in the summer transfer window; manager Jurgen Klopp does not have the former Paris Saint-German defender in his plans. The Reds want as much as £30 million in order to sell the 27-year-old. For someone who has been transfer-listed, that is quite a lot of money but if Palace want to survive in the Premier League and be successful in the division in the long run, then they should cough up the cash and sign him. Sakho himself wants to join Palace despite having interest from West Bromwich Albion, and it would make perfect sense for the Eagles to make an approach before the summer transfer window shuts down.
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Sakho’s stats during his loan spell at Palace are incredible. In eight Premier League appearances for the Eagles since joining them from Liverpool in the January transfer window, the 27-year-old centre-back had a pass accuracy of 83.9%, won 2.4 headers, made 6.3 clearances and committed just 0.1 foul (per game). The Frenchman is strong in the air, knows how to clear the ball, does not take unnecessary chances, and is confident enough to put in timely tackles.
That Sakho is available and is not being used by Liverpool who have their own defensive issues is a miracle in itself, and Palace simply cannot afford to pass the chance of snapping him up. The defender is popular among the fans, has played with success at Selhurst Park, knows the Premier League inside out and, at the age of 27, he has yet to hit his peak. Sakho ticks all the boxes, and Palace should do whatever needed to secure his services this summer. Or else, come May, they could be preparing for life in the Championship in 2018-19.