Until this summer, Crystal Palace weren’t renowned for spending vast sums of money on an array of new players each transfer window, and their track record in the market may indicate why.
According to Transfermarkt, the Eagles have only spent £25m+ on two new signings throughout their history, and both have hardly been a resounding success.
The most recent acquisition to go over the aforementioned threshold was Mamadou Sakho when Palace chairman Steve Parish splashed out to bring the centre-back to Selhurst Park in August 2017.
He had struggled to find his best form during a three-and-a-half-year spell at Premier League rivals Liverpool after bursting onto the scene with boyhood club Paris Saint-Germain.
Sakho became PSG’s youngest-ever captain after he was appointed skipper at the age of just 17 years and eight months, illustrating how highly the club’s coaching staff rated him.
Despite his early promise, though, the former France international was unable to make the leap from teenage prodigy to established first-team stalwart at the Parc des Princes, and a report from former ESPN journalist Jonathan Johnson back in 2013 highlights why that was the case.
“His attitude, a lack of discipline including poor dieting habits and fractious relationships with certain members of staff, particularly in the early days, put his future at the club in jeopardy a long time ago,” he wrote (as relayed by Sports Joe).
“Many of his coaches were unhappy with his unprofessional demeanour, peaking with a nasty altercation with a journalist regarding his social habits, and PSG actually almost got rid of him as a teenager.
“However, at that time, Sakho focused enough on his football to stay, although he arguably never embraced being a true professional,” Johnson concluded.
Sakho’s time at Liverpool was marred by similar incidents when he was banned by UEFA for failing a drugs test on 17 March 2016 due to taking slimming pills, and on another occasion was sent home from the club’s pre-season tour of the United States after a fallout with Jurgen Klopp.
Parish’s decision to spend £26m on the now 31-year-old therefore represented a significant risk, and it’s one which backfired for the Palace chief.
After starting just 59 Premier League games since joining the south London club on a permanent basis four years ago, Sakho was allowed to leave on a free transfer over the summer following the expiration of his contract.
It’s a signing which the Palace hierarchy may deeply regret, but it seems as though they’ve learned from their mistakes, as their recent recruits at centre-back already seem to be an improvement on Sakho. Joachim Andersen and Marc Guehi have already averaged ratings of 6.62 and 6.57 respectively from WhoScored at Palace, whereas the Frenchman could only muster 6.06 last season and 6.24 in the previous campaign.