Crystal Palace are being mentioned alongside West Ham as a possible summer destination for France U21 midfielder Jonathan Bamba, who is out of contract this summer.
Having been on Saint-Étíenne’s books since the age of 14, Bamba is well known to scouts across the French league but after first angling for a move away from Ligue Un during the January transfer window, it now looks as though he’ll allow his current contract to expire over the summer and seek pastures new.
Clearly turning into a major asset for Saint-Étíenne, boss Jean-Louis Gasset had pleaded with the club not to cash in on Bamba when rumours of a potential move away first appeared at the turn of the year. Whilst they agreed at the time, they now face the frustration of losing him without a transfer fee in June, leaving a tangible hole in the club in relation to goals, assists and financial muscle.
Having represented France at U16, U18, U20 and U21 level, Bamba has undoubtedly been earmarked as a future star by those who watch him most frequently, leaving me hopeful of Palace stealing a march on West Ham and any other top flight suitors as and when we are able to make a formal offer for the midfielder’s services.
Of course, Bamba himself is unlikely to make the switch to Selhurst Park without first being assured of our participation in the Premier League next season but with both ourselves and the Hammers in the same boat on that front, we do at least have some time before having to bite the bullet.
Standing at just 5’9, Bamba will have his work cut out if he is to impose himself on the English game from the very start but for someone who is still so young, there appears to be a remarkable amount of hype surrounding his potential for technical growth. Could he turn out to be the sort of rough diamond who hits the ground running on these shores? There’s only one way to find out.