Roy Hodgson must have thought he had hit the jackpot when Nathan Ferguson signed for Crystal Palace from West Bromwich Albion on a free transfer in the summer. However, Ferguson has still not made a full recovery from the injury which saw a move collapse on deadline day in January. And it looks like it may be about to get a whole lot worse for the youngster, if recent reports are to be believed…
According to Calciomercato, Crystal Palace are reportedly interested in signing Fabio Baptista from Benfica.
It’s claimed that Premier League rivals Aston Villa are also keeping tabs on the 19-year-old, who is currently with the club’s ‘B’ team. So, Palace chief Steve Parish must take a gamble on the ‘great prospect‘ before it’s too late.
It seems a tad extreme to completely write off Ferguson’s Palace career before it has even truly begun. But it would be remiss to totally ignore the fact that there are growing concerns over his long-term fitness as he is still recovering from surgery in February.
Whilst we aren’t for one minute suggesting that the 20-year-old isn’t a good player – if anything, far from it, as he scored one goal and supplied one assist during his time at West Brom – the knee injury has curtailed his progress so far this season.
So, why sign a largely unproven teenager as well, I hear you ask? Well, Palace have the oldest squad in the Premier League, as Martin Kelly and Joel Ward are arguably entering the twilight of their careers at the club, whilst injury cover Nathaniel Clyne is currently only contracted on a short-term deal until the end of January.
It’s currently unclear whether or not Benfica would be willing to sanction a transfer, but the Eagles missed a prime opportunity to sign now-Real Madrid defender Ferland Mendy at a cut-price deal. Can they afford to make the same mistake again? We don’t think so.
Baptista has made five appearances for Benfica’s ‘B’ team so far this season, picking up an assist in the 6-0 win over Casa Pia, via Transfermarkt. The in-demand right-back, who has attracted interest from Serie A side Atalanta as well, can also play as a winger, so his versatility would be an added bonus.
Whether or not he will turn out to be another world-class talent like Mendy, who knows, only time will tell, but Palace surely won’t want to miss the boat once again. Most importantly, he has never missed a game due to injury in his entire career so far, which speaks volumes.
He is currently valued at a mere £135k, as per Transfermarkt, but his contract is set to expire in 2024, which means he most likely won’t come cheap unless the Portuguese giants really want to get rid of him.