Crystal Palace are on the search for reinforcements in the January transfer window and recent reports suggest they’re interested in Schalke 04’s midfielder Nabil Bentaleb.
According to a recent report coming from FootMercato, the former Tottenham Hotspur player wants to leave Germany and is aiming for either a return to the Premier League or a journey into France.
The same source states that Palace are one of several clubs interested in his services.
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Bentaleb used to be essential for the German team, as FootMercato explain, but without a single appearance in the Bundesliga up until matchday 17 in the ongoing 2019/20 campaign, it’s safe to say that his role has quickly diminished.
He was sidelined with a torn meniscus earlier in the season but he has effectively been frozen out of the first team squad ever since he was dropped to the U23s for disciplinary reasons back in March 2019.
With that in mind, it appears Palace could be in a strong position to bring him back to English football, and a handful of quotes from those who know him best appear to suggest it would be a wise move to make.
FFC have rounded up a handful of verdicts from those close to Bentaleb, with glowing praise seemingly the order of the day…
Heidel is definitely someone who is familiar with Bentaleb’s quality.
The now 25-year-old midfielder has been at Schalke since he joined the club in 2017 and despite the rocky road he’s been treading ever since, Heidel still has words of praise for him on multiple occasions.
Two years ago, he dubbed the former Spurs man the best player in their squad, as quoted by German media outlet Waz :
“We all agree with Schalke that maybe Nabil is the best footballer in the whole team. Nabil will gradually move closer, game by game, to the performance he can bring.”
On a different occasion, he also showered him with praise and talked up the uniqueness of his talent, per TheSetPieces:
“Bentaleb can do things on the pitch that many can’t”
Michael Cox, a revered tactical journalist who currently writes for The Athletic, wrote a whole column on Bentaleb back when the player was still playing at Spurs in 2015.
Back then, he was seen as a player of extraordinary talent and ability and the journalist paid him a huge compliment by comparing him to none other than Sergio Busquets.
Here’s what he said in his article published by FourFourTwo:
“Whereas other players in his role prefer scrapping on the edge of their own box, Bentaleb is happy to push up the pitch and make quick interceptions to recover the ball immediately, in a manner reminiscent of Sergio Busquets.
“And, while Bentaleb is predominantly a defensive midfielder and it’s difficult to imagine him being deployed higher up the pitch, he’s capable of contributing in an attacking sense too.”
And interestingly enough, Bentaleb was also praised by a former teammate who he could be reunited with at Crystal Palace.
Townsend was quick to highlight the youngster’s rapid development as he suggested his progress could serve as an inspiration for emerging academy prospects.
Here’s what he said, as quoted by Spurs’ official website:
“You look at him 12 months ago and he was in our Under-21s and there he is, 12 months down the line he’s at the World Cup playing for Algeria. It’s so good to see him play well as well.
“What Nabil has done is show you have to believe in your ability.
“When you get two, three, four young players coming through it gives everyone that extra inspiration, that belief that if they maintain their form they will get a chance in the first team and not only for the club, but Nabil has gone on to play for Algeria and is now at the World Cup.”
Even though his current situation at Schalke is far from perfect, Bentaleb is still a player with a lot of potential and quality.
Maybe Crystal Palace can be the place where he finds his feet once again and proves Spurs let a gem slip through the net.