For clubs like Crystal Palace, being effective in the transfer market is imperative to their future success, but the south London outfit’s endeavours haven’t always been that productive.
The likes of Mamadou Sakho and Christian Benteke have arrived for hefty fees without producing much on the pitch, but the club’s hierarchy have struck gold over a handful of deals in recent years.
One of Palace’s more fruitful purchases was undoubtedly Dwight Gayle. The striker joined the Eagles back in the summer of 2013 for £4.5m after enjoying an impressive surge up the football pyramid.
Gayle was in the Essex Senior League with Stansted until 2011 and was on loan at Bishop’s Stortford in 2011-12, but his outstanding displays certainly caught the eye.
Having scored 57 goals in the 2010/11 season for ninth-tier Stansted, Gayle got his first break in professional football after being snapped up by League Two outfit Dagenham & Redbridge.
However, he was immediately loaned out to Bishop’s Stortford in the Conference North, and the diminutive forward bagged a further 42 times in all competitions the following campaign.
Gayle signed a new contract with Dagenham upon his return to the club, yet he was shipped out on another loan to Peterborough United soon after, and the Posh snapped him up on a permanent deal just six months later.
And his meteoric rise wasn’t finished there. Peterborough were relegated from the Championship despite the now 31-year-old notching up 13 goals and six assists in 29 league appearances, prompting Palace to make their move.
“The chance came, and I had to grab it because I might not get another,” Gayle said upon his unveiling as a Palace player.
“To be playing in the Premier League from where I’ve come from is a big achievement really. I’m just really looking forward to it, and hopefully, I can take the opportunity with both hands and do well.”
But things didn’t quite go to plan for Gayle during his time at Selhurst Park. During his three-year spell with the capital club, he scored just 15 top-flight goals in 64 outings, ultimately leading to his return to the Championship with Newcastle United.
The Magpies paid £10.8m for his services in 2016, earning the Eagles a healthy profit, and that deal has looked better and better for Palace chairman Steve Parish ever since.
Gayle has failed to find the back of the net on a regular basis in the Premier League throughout his career, and as a result, his market value has plummeted to just £3.6m despite him still being in his prime years.
This shows Parish was right to release the Englishman when he did, banking a tidy fee for his services in the process.