If L’Equipe are to be believed, Steve Mandanda’s stay at Crystal Palace is now drawing to an end after a significant development in discussions between Marseille and the Eagles over the weekend.
From a pure footballing perspective I can’t help but express my disappointment at the manner in which Mandanda’s time in SE25 has unfolded. Taking away all of the personal struggles Steve has had in adapting to life away from France, he arrived with a stellar reputation and showed, albeit far too briefly, that he is an extremely capable goalkeeper when he is fit and motivated to succeed.
It was a signing that was supposed to provide a platform for the team to evolve into a slightly different playing style, utilising the Frenchman’s comfort in possession as a building block for a more possession-based game but unfortunately, a long-term knee injury and a feeling of supposed homesickness, ended any hopes Mandanda may have had of making a serious go of things at Selhurst Park.
Looking beyond Mandanda’s apparently imminent departure, we must not kid ourselves into thinking that we’ll be set fair with just Wayne Hennessey and Julian Speroni on the books. The latter is now far too old to be expected to perform week in, week out and the former has struggled to prove that he has what it takes to fit into an upwardly mobile top flight outfit.
Stories linking Palace with a quick bid for Barcelona stopper Jasper Cillessan surfaced last week and refuse to go away; no doubt as a direct consequence of his previous working relationship with new Eagles boss Frank de Boer but having been at loggerheads with Marseille for so long over a possible deal for Mandanda, I’d begun to give up any hope of an agreement ever being reached.
This latest news is a huge development on that front and one that should be welcomed by all parties, even though it’s rather sad to see a player with so much potential waving goodbye without ever having shown what he can do in between the sticks.