Crystal Palace Needed to hit the Transfer Reset Button

Written by Robert Sutherland
Parish
 
Palace have needed to reconsider how they do transfers for some time. 
 
After the profligacy of previous transfer windows that saw Yohan Cabaye, Christian Benteke and Mamadou Sakho arrive over the course of a few seasons, with an outlay of more than £60m for the three, there was a point where the reset button had to be hit. Whether enforced by financial limitations or not. 
 
TV income has flat-lined (where previously it saw significant increases with each renewal) and financial fair play limits and short term cost controls meant that there wasn't room for that level of spending. 
 
That reset didn't mean that Palace needed to sign lesser quality players, but instead needed to focus on finding value where other clubs might not see it. Palace's strength is that the club has the foundations to be strong with just a few recruits added to the side. 
 
Team Huddle
 
With those recruits, the club has a squad that should finish mid-table in the league. At the very least it should be capable of avoiding a relegation scrap. It's strong enough to. 
 
It is with that reset in mind that the signing of Cheikh Kouyate in an £8m move from West Ham was so significant. It showed a shift to spending sensibly, after manager Roy Hodgson said it would be a summer of relative austerity just a few weeks beforehand.
 
Kouyate hasn't been a popular figure at West Ham for some time. After a bright start, the midfielder's performances dropped and apparent attitude issues surfaced. Fans suggested that he lost interest. A move to Selhurst Park, working alongside former Anderlecht teammate Luka Milivojevic, could be just what the doctor ordered. 
 
The Max Meyer signing is one in a similar mold. Once popular in Gelsenkirchen, Meyer became an outcast following contract demands and a public spat with Schalke 04's general manager Christian Heidel. Meyer expected to be leading figure in the team; Schalke felt he wasn't worthy of that role just yet. 
 
But from adversity comes opportunity, and at Palace both Kouyate and Meyer have an opportunity to reignite their careers. 
 
Chamakh
 
Steve Parish spoke a few years ago about how those kind of players would be ideal for the club - Selhurst Park should be an island for the outcast. Whether Marouane Chamakh, Jason Puncheon, Patrick Van Aanholt or even Wilfried Zaha (at a stretch), players who don't hit the mark at their previous clubs can find opportunity at Palace. 
 
Even Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who struggled to break into the side at Chelsea (and who looks like he might suffer from a similar experience again this season) got a chance to impress in Hodgson's team, which resulted in an England call-up. Palace should be a draw for this reason. 
 
That brings us back to an opening point, however. The window isn't just about spending the most money. It's about finding a balance between players who can become the foundation of the side, and convincing players who might typically look elsewhere to supplement that. 
 
Meyer will be accused of just chasing the cash, and it's a common thread in plenty of articles trying to make sense of the move. But the young German has an opportunity at Palace that he might not find at other clubs. There are foundations upon which he can build. That opportunity is priceless.
 
 
 
A player of his age, on the brink of stardom or ignominy, is in need of an environment that allows his talent to flourish, and that is prepared to give him the time to do so.
 
Perhaps he should have decided to stay at Schalke, but the breakdown of that relationship is good news for Palace. Regular football in a highly competitive league is invaluable -- and Palace can offer that. 
 
In Hodgson he has a manager who not only has international pedigree but understands what its like to work abroad and can actually speak his language. In a global game, that's a significant plus.
 
With the transfer window closing today, Palace might still look to sign one or two more players. Recruiting with imagination is where transfer opportunity lies.