As is always the case with any new, shiny signing supporters ask questions about what he’ll bring to the team, what new aspects he’ll deliver and whether or not he’ll truly fit in.
Crystal Palace fans are sure to be debating the above points, but they may also be thinking: how did we manage to get Yohan Cabaye?
It is indeed a shock of a deal and a real coup, but if it tells you anything it is that Palace are going in the right direction. Cabaye is coming to play and it is a real statement of intent by Steve Parish and the Eagles’ board.
Some Palace fans might even recall a performance from Cabaye in his most recent visit to Selhurst Park in 2013, in which he scored the opening goal in a 3-0 win for Newcastle and turned in a typically classy performance.
After that match then Newcastle boss, and now Palace chief, Alan Pardew said: “When you’re at the top of the Premier League you can’t stay there unless you have got x-factor and he gives us that”.
However Cabaye left Pardew and Newcastle the following month for PSG, and Newcastle struggled without the Frenchman – highlighted by the fact that the Magpies won 45% of the games Cabaye played in compared to just 21% when he was absent.
In the 2013/14 season Cabaye had scored an impressive seven goals before January – that season he was only bettered by fellow Frenchman Loic Remy.
However at PSG the former Lille man could not quite show the goalscoring touch he had in the North East, and he failed to really nail down a permanent spot in Paris.
But for Palace his goalscoring potential is still there for all to see, however, that is not all Cabaye’s game is about.
Cabaye will bring three things to the Palace midfield, things that aren’t there in abundance at the moment. He will add class, control and creativity. He is a clear upgrade and will bring some real pedigree to Palace’s play, as he has the ability to control matches with his range of passing and reading of the game. He will make Palace far more comfortable in possession, he is that good.
But what will be even better for Eagles fans is that they don’t have to worry about how will the 29-year-old settle. He is proven in the Premier League, so there is no risk in the signing. They know what they are getting, whereas usually a new arrival is not guaranteed to succeed.
That in itself is a huge positive, and alongside the positive relationship Cabaye has with Pardew, the deal does look very good. Cabaye has been very complimentary of the former West Ham boss, saying: “I like him because he gave me confidence to play.” And this confidence seems to get the best out of Cabaye.
One of the doubts of the deal could be that Cabaye could diminish what Palace are good at in midfield, in terms at being strong and powerful. But on the flipside Cabaye could enhance that as he loves a tackle, too. In his last season in England he ranked in the top ten for tackles made, highlighting his ability to put his foot in whilst ranking highly in the creative stakes, too.
This is a player who can contribute both in the defensive and offensive sides of the game, and his creative abilities – better than those of Eden Hazard in the 2013/14 season – are what will really transform the Eagles into a better footballing side, whilst maintaining what Pardew’s team have done so well.
The pessimists might say it’s a lot of money. £13m for a player who won’t be sold on is significant, but he is a French international and a excellent player, so it could prove shrewd.
The fact he has arrived in SE25 shouldn’t be seen as a sign of Cabaye’s decline, it should be seen as a sign of Palace’s growth as they look to transform the way that they play from Pulis to Pardew.