Bakary Sako has become something of a cult hero for Crystal Palace fans since Roy Hodgson took charge at Selhurst Park back in September but given the Mali international’s recent quotes in the French press, he may have played his last game in red and blue.
Up until Roy’s arrival, Sako was seen as nothing more than a bit-part squad player, with the former Wolves fan-favourite having failed to live up to the lofty standards he set for himself with goals against Aston Villa and Chelsea at the start of his stay. Thankfully for Bakary, an attacking injury crisis forced Hodgson to think outside the box and attempt to turn the natural wide man into an out-and-out striker; a move which appeared to completely rejuvenate both the player and the squad as a whole.
Suddenly, Sako’s sizeable frame was moving with purpose, driving directly at opposition defences and scoring goals on a regular basis; a shift which came in handy for a side who were in desperate need of them at the foot of the Premier League table. Quite quickly after, talk began to spread of a new contract being put on the table for Sako, when previously the mere suggestion of attempting to extend his stay with us would have been laughed off by the masses.
All of which brings us to the present day, a time when Palace’s status in the top flight still looks flimsy and other clubs (notably Saint-Etienne in Sako’s case) are beginning to circle around the players whose contracts are set to expire over the summer.
Whilst I wouldn’t be against a deal that saw Bakary still playing his football at Selhurst Park next season, I don’t see how we can look to set anything in stone with the player until we know which division we’ll be playing in from August onwards. Admittedly, his exact weekly wage is not public knowledge at present but I’d wager that the directors won’t be happy at the prospect of servicing it in the second tier, which leaves us playing a waiting game.
If Sako himself is happy to delay any talks with other clubs until we know what the future holds, all will be well. If not, we’ll be forced to enter into negotiations that incorporate an element of risk of accept the loss of a player who has proven to be key for us in recent months.
It promises to be an interesting couple of months.