There is a mood of excitement around Crystal Palace, with the Eagles set to pull off one of the biggest coups of the summer and sign Max Meyer on a Bosman deal while talks continue over Swansea City’s Jordan Ayew, while on Wednesday night the club confirmed the capture of Cheikhou Kouyate for £9.5m.
Meyer, 22, had been expected to interest a number of top-six clubs and some of Europe’s leading sides but, after being offered around, the market for him failed to materialise as predicted and several weeks ago Palace positioned themselves to potentially take advantage.
The talented midfielder failed to agree a new contract with Schalke last year and made it clear that he would be leaving for free, which triggered something of a smear campaign against the youngster. Those around the player consider the comments made about his departure to have played a role in dissuading clubs from signing a playmaker who has for years been tipped for the very top and is already a full German international and captained their team to the final of the 2016 Olympics.
Meyer’s representatives quoted one interested club an €8m (£7.5m) gross salary, significant signing-on fee and an achievable release clause during talks much earlier this summer, meaning the player could return to the Champions League easily should he shine at a lower level.
While it is not known to what extent he has been forced to re-evaluate those demands, sources claim that the outline agreement with Palace is not close to those numbers.
Meyer would nonetheless represent a quality addition, and especially so for a Palace side that has lost Yohan Cabaye and Ruben Loftus-Cheek from the engine room and lacks the available funds of clubs fishing in the same pool, like Everton and West Ham United.
Bringing Loftus-Cheek back to Selhurst Park was always part of Palace’s summer plans if at all possible, but Chelsea made it clear weeks ago that the England international was not expected to be loaned out despite the arrival of new coach Maurizio Sarri and his trusted lieutenant, deep-lying playmaker Jorginho. Danny Drinkwater was suggested to the Eagles as an option but was not seriously considered, while Palace could yet land Loftus-Cheek in the unlikely event Chelsea decide to once again farm out the player. Tammy Abraham could, however, be an option. Chelsea value clubs that treat loanees well and give them first-team opportunities and were delighted with Loftus-Cheek's development in south London last year.
Jordan Ayew has been in talks with Palace over a move, with the Ghanaian representing a significant upgrade on departed wing duo Bakary Sako and Lee Chung-yong.
Ayew’s versatility in attack would give Roy Hodgson a lot of options going into the new season and Palace may be able to avoid paying a large fee for the Swansea man by including former Ajax wonderkid Jairo Riedewald in the deal.
Fulham are also interested in Ayew, however, and had a £7m bid rejected earlier in the summer. The Cottagers were also in pursuit of Meyer until recently but while Palace are understood to have beaten them to the German, Swansea are yet to make up their minds on Ayew, who is earning a salary that won’t cause the club any issues should he stay for their upcoming campaign in the Championship.
In the hunt for an attacker, Ayew is viewed as an alternative to Michail Antonio, a south London native who has found himself surplus to requirements at West Ham this summer.
Talks have taken place between West Ham and Palace over Antonio but the Hammers’ demands are currently proving a roadblock as the Eagles mull over other options. Antonio is unlikely to sign if Ayew arrives.
The club may use a loan deal to sign a striker as competition for Christian Benteke and Alexandr Sorloth but is looking to avoid a repeat of last year’s situation where they used both Premier League loan berths in August and struggled to reinforce the squad in the January window. Wilfried Zaha, however, will not be leaving the club and long-standing suitors Tottenham, who have previously had bids rejected for the Ivorian, won't be making any move for him this summer.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies