After rumours of a January move for Sporting CP’s Islam Slimani resurfaced this week, Jack Thurston looked into exactly what we could expect from the Algerian, should Pardew and co. make a move for him in the new year.
There has been much praise heaped on the pace and power of Palace under Pardew this season, and rightly so. Wins against Chelsea and Liverpool – and competitive displays against Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United – have seen pundits and commentators waxing lyrical about the potential the current squad has.
Unfortunately, Monday night’s embarrassing loss to Sunderland highlighted a lack of guile and composure in the attacking third; qualities we will definitely need to hone if we are to fulfil our lofty ambitions.
Between them, our recognised strikers have contributed no goals in the league this season, and we have scored 14 goals in 13 games – four less than the same stage under the short-lived tenure of Neil Warnock last season.
Whether our strikers’ barren spell is solely their responsibility, or an unwanted byproduct of the unpredictability of our wingers remains a debate all of its own, but you need only look at the exploits of Jamie Vardy this season to see what a difference a goalscorer can make.
Whilst admittedly aided by brilliant performances from Albrighton and Mahrez; the Leicester frontman has chased lost causes, created chances on his own, and won penalties en route to equalling Ruud van Nistelrooy’s astonishing record.
With the January transfer window drawing ever closer, the subject of new signings is never far from the lips of members of the national and local press. One name that has resurfaced in recent days is Islam Slimani; a 27-year-old striker currently plying his trade with Portuguese giants Sporting CP.
The Algerian has been rejuvenated under new manager Jorge Jesus, scoring seven times in 10 league games to send Sporting top of the Primeira Liga, eight points clear of 14/15 winners and arch-rivals Benfica. Alan Pardew has said over the summer that he has admired him from afar. Slimani is rumoured to be on both West Ham and Tottenham’s radar too, as they look to secure European competition next season.
It is understood that Sporting are looking for a fee in the region of £14 million for Slimani, so with this in mind, I spoke to Sporting fan Pedro Garcia Pereira.
Jack: What has Jorge Jesus done differently to Marco Silva, to enable Slimani to start the season so well?
Pedro: I think Slimani is benefitting from the fact that the team is playing better as a unit. As he is not the best playmaker his success depends on whether the ball gets to him in the right areas often enough. The team is playing with far more confidence than last season, and as Jorge Jesus has made it apparent that he is our first-choice forward, his confidence has been boosted.
Jack: So he isn’t a player that links up in attacking moves?
Pedro: No, he is a player you want to be involved as little as possible in an attack, applying the finishing touches.
Jack: What are his best attributes?
Pedro: His positioning and heading of the ball. His control isn’t the best but he works hard for the team.
Jack: Do you think he would suit the Premier League?
Pedro: I’m not convinced he is currently suited to the Premier League. He goes down easily, and dives a lot. He will need to change his mindset to thrive in England.
Jack: Why is he commanding such a hefty fee?
Pedro: Our President (Bruno de Carvalho) is very reluctant to sell him. My advice to Palace would be to wait until the season is over, as his success is still very new. The club will probably drop their asking price in the summer, too.
Jack: Thanks for taking the time out Pedro, good luck in the title race.