Crystal Palace are being linked (albeit in a newspaper known for plucking stories out of thin air) with a move for Everton midfielder James McCarthy between now and the start of the 2018/19 season.
Born in Scotland, McCarthy began his career with Hamilton Academicals back in 2006, aged just 15. Having played a pivotal role in the group that got Hamilton promoted to the Scottish Premiership, Wigan Athletic pounced to secure his services in 2009, rewarding the teenager with a five-year contract, such was their faith in his ability.
Back in the days when Wigan were regularly giving their Premier League counterparts bloody noses, McCarthy was a key cog in then Latics manager Roberto Martinez’s tactical set-up, helping the club to win the FA Cup Final in stunning fashion against Manchester City in 2013.
At the end of that summer’s transfer window, McCarthy followed Martinez to Everton, where the Irish international remains to this day. Having initially been brought in for £13 million, he forged a genuinely impressive partnership with Gareth Barry in the middle of the park, playing 39 times in the 2013/14 campaign and scoring one goal.
Sadly for the 27-year-old, no season since then has hit the heights of his first for the Toffees, with just 19 first-team appearances to his name since August of 2016. Admittedly, the horror-injury he suffered in January of 2018 (when attempting to block a shot from West Brom’s Saloman Rondon) put an end to any momentum he was building but even so, it’s fair to say that he may be in need of a move away from Merseyside to give his career a kick-start.
There are of course question marks over whether or not the Everton man would be fit enough to play a full role in our pre-season campaign, given the nature of the injury but if he is deemed to have significant progress, there’s no doubt that he has the talent to bounce back after what has been a stop-start couple of years in terms of playing opportunities.
Admittedly, central midfield is an area in which we already appear quite strong but with Yohan Cabaye and Ruben Loftus-Cheek looking less and less likely to remain on our books once the current campaign draws to a close, I wouldn’t blame Roy Hodgson for looking to reinforce his options in the middle.
Indeed, McCarthy is well known to current Palace midfield dynamo James McArthur, having spent a number of years with him at both Hamilton and Wigan. Could a reunion in red and blue be just what McCarthy needs to recapture the form that saw him impressing neutrals everywhere back in 2014? There’s only one way to find out.