According to the print edition of The Daily Mail (21st March) via The Daily Record, Crystal Palace are keen on Oliver Burke as Roy Hodgson and Dougie Freedman, who is a big fan of the Scotsman, look to reinforce their front line in the summer.
The Eagles will surely have their work cut out to sign the impressive winger, as there would be ‘serious competition’ for the player’s signature once he returns to West Brom from Celtic at the end of the season, where he is currently on loan.
The former RB Leipzig man has impressed in Glasgow but the Baggies are reportedly looking to offload him in the summer and willing to listen to offers.
With Palace’s squad ageing, news that a 21-year-old starlet is on the radar will surely be welcomed by supporters, but what are the potential consequences of Burke being brought to Selhurst Park? Read on to find out…
With Chelsea sweating over a looming transfer embargo, it is unlikely that Palace will be able to retain the services of Michy Batshuayi beyond the current season; their striker search will go back to square one.
Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend had been used as an unorthodox duo up front until the Belgian’s arrival and the pair now look far more comfortable on their respective wings – it may not last, though.
Alexander Sorloth isn’t quite cutting the mustard, so Zaha and Townsend may be forced to reunite down the middle – an outcome even more likely if Burke joins the Eagles
Although the 5-cap international has scored four goals in six Scottish Premiership starts for Celtic and featured as a supporting striker, he could theoretically replace Zaha’s influence out wide while the Ivorian is deployed as a centre-forward again. It might not be to the former Manchester United man’s liking though – he has been far better since returning to his preferred role on the left.
As previously mentioned, Hodgson elected for a strike duo rather than a lone front man earlier in the season due to the lack of a prolific centre-forward but Batshuayi’s arrival has seen 4-3-3 become the former England boss’ formation of choice.
Burke, though, gives Hodgson the option of playing 4-4-2 the way he did last season, as the Scotsman could be the perfect replacement for Ruben Loftus-Cheek – the Chelsea man was excellent on SE25 last campaign and crucial to the system.
Loftus-Cheek’s driving runs opened up all kinds of space for the forwards but when Hodgson has tried to play 4-4-2 this season without that relentless, powerful forward running from out wide, it hasn’t quite worked as well.
Burke has pace and strength in abundance and could be dangerous for Palace should he be deployed out wide.
Palace pulled off one of the coups of the summer when they secured Max Meyer on a free from Schalke, but the former German wonder-kid hasn’t quite had the impact that was expected of him.
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While this might not be the midfielder’s fault as Hodgson prefers work-rate to technical ability in the middle of the park, he hasn’t done enough to warrant his surely enormous wage; he and Palace could part ways in the summer, particularly if Burke signs.
Hodgson has deployed Meyer mostly as a left-midfielder, even though it’s blatantly obvious he excels in a central role, and the arrival of Burke would further limit his opportunities in the starting XI. It could be the final straw for the under-appreciated number 7, who certainly deserves better than this.