Crystal Palace stole all the headlines on deadline day with a series of moves aimed at freeing the Londoners from their current relegation pressures. If anyone was going to save Palace it was going to be Tony Pulis, a man seasoned in these kinds of struggles.
Looking for players with both the heart and quality for the fight, could the capture of Joe Ledley prove to be a transfer masterstroke?
Celtic’s Welsh midfielder was subject to interest from across the whole Premier League, and Palace’s eventual £2.5m capture is looking like something of a coup. Neil Lennon would have been aggrieved to lose his man, but given that Ledley had just 6 months left on his current deal this looked like a prudent move for both parties.
Steve Parish and indeed the whole Crystal Palace were delighted to finally get the deal across the line, just as time seemed to be running out at the back end of the window. But the Eagles were soon able to confirm that the deal had been ratified, with a contract tieing down Ledley until the end of the 2016/17 season. A statement from Crystal Palace read:
“Ledley brings plenty of experience to SE25, having played Champions League football and won two Scottish Premier League titles during his three-and-a-half seasons at Parkhead.”
“The Welsh international began his career at Cardiff City, progressing through the club’s youth ranks and making more than 250 appearances for the Bluebirds after making his senior debut in September 2004.”
“He went on to win the Wales Club Player of the Year award in 2007 and 2008, and was also named in the PFA Championship Team of the Year in 2008/09.”
Speaking to Sky Sports News, Ledley welcomed his switch to south London.
“I’m just glad to get it over and done with and look forward to the new challenge ahead,” he said.
“I reported at the training ground today at Celtic and spoke to Neil Lennon, made my decision and came down, caught the next flight and managed to come here in time.”
So why all the fuss about Ledley, why is he the man to guarantee Palace’s survival?
Joe Ledley embodies everything that Pulis looks for in a player. He is a versatile central midfielder, able to do the dirty work effectively but at the same time able to offer something a little more refined in the final third. He has always been admired for his athleticism and willingness to fight for the cause, characteristics which will be crucial for a Palace side looking to ensure their Premier League survival.
Midfield has also been an area blighted by injury, and hopefully Ledley can now be a consistent feature that Pulis can build his side around in the upcoming months. This won’t be a run in to phase the Welshman, having considerable experience at both International and club level. Indeed, his Champions League exploits with Celtic will have readied him for the kind of tasks that Palace are likely to face.
Given the quality of opposition in the league, Palace more often than not have to do a containing job with a view to countering with pace. This is a strategy that was employed to great success by Neil Lennon’s Celtic in recent years and something that Ledley has excelled in. His versatility in first nullifying the attacking threat and then going box to box to try to carve out opportunities is likely to be the way forward for him again at Palace.
If Palace can keep Ledley fit then this could prove to be the best £2.5m that they have spent in recent times; someone that is likely to flourish under Pulis I cannot see this doing anything but bolstering the clubs survival hopes.