Crystal Palace 2018-2019 Transfer Review

Note: This is the latest breakdown of transfer moves leading up to the 2018-19 Premier League season. This post will be updated throughout the transfer window as appropriate.

I think that Crystal Palace have the quality to do better than they have done. The seven game stretch that started the 2017-2018 couldn’t possibly be regarded as anything other than abhorrent. However, after seven games which saw the team concede 17 of  their 55 goals, they sacked their then-manager and appointed Roy Hodgson. During the time prior to Roy Hodgson they also scored a total of zero goals. Considering the Hodgson-led side would finish 11th in the Premier League, even with that start — they’ve got to be given some credit.
In addition to the substantial improvement in form, they also made this finish without much contribution from their star striker, Christian Benteke. During his whole career with Crystal Palace, Benteke has averaged about 1 goal every 275′ and adding an assist every 690′. The fact that the entirety of last season he only scored 3 goals and 6 assists in 2,234′ has to be one of his worst (statistical) season outputs. Just to show how crazy these numbers are, his entire career he’s averaged a goal every 197′ and provided an assist every 480′. I don’t think this will continue for Palace next season, I anticipate him to return to goal scoring form and provide at least 10 goals (maybe more) next season as long as management continues to give him support and he can find the net (both of which have come true so far in preseason).

I think a continental qualifying spot is within this side’s reach. They need to figure out a way to get Benteke back into goal scoring form and figure out how to absorb the minutes that Cabaye and Sako were playing. I’m not Roy Hodgson so I’m not going to speculate how the minutes will be spread around, but I am a little concerned about the depth. I am all for not spending additional funds putting the club’s financial position — I just don’t know where the minutes are going to go right now. I could potentially see a shift to a more attacking formation making (further) use of Milivojevic and then just layering on the attacking talent (which would definitely help the goal scoring). (Update: I think that with the addition of Kouyaté, some of these questions have been answered — I think that Kouyaté will be able to fill the lion’s share of Cabaye’s minutes. His positional versality will allow him to adapt to fit Hodgson’s side and offers a lot of potential for in-game adjustments without having to bring in players with a different position/playing style).
Ultimately, I think that just a little bit of good fortune last season could have seen them climb as high as 8th, with a swing of only 5 points. Were they able to win one or two of that first seven and then force some draws, they maybe would have been able to break into continental competition. I think that Hodgson will have to make some moves and loan moves seem to be the best option for them right now, they are just going to have to be able to survive injuries.
Ins:

  • Vicente Guaita (Free Transfer from Getafe CF) – I’m not sure exactly what to think of this move to be completely honest. I have to think that Wayne Hennessey has to be the favorite going into the preseason, but Guaita was phenomenal in La Liga last season. Across 34 appearances, he allowed 28 goals (10 of those were to Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico) and kept 12 clean sheets. Hennessey the Eagles’ starter last year made 27 appearances, allowing 41 goals (22 were to Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool), and 7 clean sheets. Preseason has also not provided any clarity about Roy Hodgson’s thinking — Guaita has started one game, and Hennessey has started one game. In the one Guaita started, Hennessey wasn’t even on the bench — however, neither keeper has conceded a goal yet in the preseason. Based solely on the statistics, I think that Crystal Palace has two very solid goalkeepers and I’m interested to see how they are used going forward. I love players that come in on Free Transfers, with no fee involved, they are free to explore their role with their new club.
  • Cheikhou Kouyaté ($13M from West Ham) – I think Kouyaté is a great pick up for this Palace side. Kouyaté has 4 Belgian Championships under his belt, along with 147 appearances for West Ham. He is also the current Senegal captain with 51 appearances and 3 goals. Across the last several seasons for West Ham, Kouyaté has appeared as centerback, defensive midfielder, and midfielder, he even had the occasional start at right midfielder. I think that he will bring a lot of positional versatility for the side, and I think that he’ll end up being a great signing to start filling the Cabaye hole. He brings a clear desire to succeed and plays massive minutes. Although his price tag is higher, I think he’s still a good value because of that versality — he can basically plan anywhere in the defensive half or midfield, that is a huge advantage for Hodgson enterring the season.
  • Max Meyer (Free Transfer from FC Schalke 04) – Once labeled “Germany’s Messi” Meyer has struggled to find his way into regular selection for both club and country. Across 146 league appearances for Schalke he managed 17 goals and 17 assists averaging almost 64′ minutes a game. After a breakdown in relations at Schalke, Meyer opted to “test the free transfer market” but the wage demands expressed by Meyer and his agent have been a big stumbling block for him joining sides like Arsenal. Crystal Palace has opted to meet his wage demands — making hiim the highest paid player on the Palace roster. Meyer has always shown the potential, but he needs to put his head down, stay away from drama with the media and the club and show results on the pitch. I do think that Palace have availablility for his favored attacking midfield position, and Meyer has made appearances for Schalke in most other midfield/forward positions if needed. I think that Meyer can be a good signing for the Eagles, and with no transfer fee it could pay dividends; but his yearly salary (about $11.5M) could prove to be a stumbling block if the results on the pitch aren’t present.
  • Jordan Ayew (Loan from Swansea City) – I think this is an absolute steal for Crystal Palace,  Ayew left (on loan) Swansea less than 6 months after his winter transfer window deadline-beating transfer for $6.6M. I’m not sure that Crystal Palace really needs assistance here, but for a free loan — all they are on the hook for is cost of wages — they might as well bring in a rotation option. There’s a number of “rumors” about relationships with the club staff causing issues for Ayew, but I haven’t been able to pin down anything concrete. This could be a great move for Palace, good on them for taking advantage of an opportunity involving fallout from another club.

Outs:

  • Damien Delaney (Free Transfer to Cork City) – Unlike Cabaye, Delaney featured for the Eagles only 4 times making the bench for a few additional times. I have no concerns about this transfer.
  • Yohan Cabaye (Free transfer to Al-Nasr) – Cabaye appeared in 34 games last season for the Eagles and while I think he still had a role to play at the club — I can’t hold the club responsible for him turning down a contract extension and opting to move on. Amongst the hard feelings, the one silver lining is perhaps, that the club is saving ~$4M in wages with his departure. Given the concerns we discussed in the Premier League Primer, we think this is a definite silver lining as financials continue to be a concern for Crystal Palace (Update: After signing Max Meyer; the wage losses are a wash at best, and the wage budget may have increased).
  • Diego Cavalieri (Released) – Cavalieri did not feature for the side, and frankly, with the incoming quality of Vicente, I’m not sure he’d stand much chance even making the bench anymore.
  • Chung-Yong Lee (Released) – Lee was troubled by injury problems which despite featuring 7 times only amassing 129′. His reduced squad value and injury problems are probably a good reason for the club to cut their losses and move on.
  • Bakary Sako (Released) – Like Cabaye, Sako was offered a new contract and rejected it, and also like Cabaye — the silver lining might be relief to the clubs wage bill (expected at about $4M).

Last update: August 15, 2018

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