Before we begin this article, let’s lay out a few concrete facts.
Attilio Lombardo is somewhat of a legend at Crystal Palace, having enjoyed a spell as a player and also as player-manager – a role which he said he was reluctant to take, but wanted to get the club back into the Premiership.
His arrival was a surprising one – the winger was a full Italy international playing for Juventus at the time, so when Steve Coppell parted with £1.6m to bring him to Selhurst Park in 1997, it was something of a coup.
Lombardo even made a visit back to Selhurst Park in 2018, where the supporters applauded the man they labelled as ‘The Bald Eagle’.
However, while much of his stint in SE25 is romanticised, it wasn’t entirely a successful signing.
In fact, it is somewhat of an overrated acquisition, in truth.
Aside from some suave performances in what was known as the Premiership at the time, Lombardo only lasted for a season-and-a-half at Crystal Palace before being sold to Lazio for £500k in January 1999 – meaning that the Eagles took a £1.1m loss on their investment.
The Italian also only made 25 appearances for the south Londoners, scoring five goals – while it simply cannot be denied that he was a wonderful player, Crystal Palace didn’t get much use out of the Coppell signing before he was sold for a substantial loss following relegation to the First Division.
His stint at Selhurst Park saw each Lombardo goal cost the Eagles a total of £320k, which was a lot of money back in those days.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, this isn’t a dig at the ex-Juventus man who worked hard to build a strong connection with the fanbase, and also “put everything into” his efforts for the club by his own admission – that much is admirable and cannot be devalued.
However, the deal wasn’t as incredible as is documented, and the black-and-white details of the finances make that entirely obvious.
In other news, Dougie Freedman is wrong to be put off by this valuation for a transfer target with shades of Zaha…