Two years ago, Crystal Palace made the ill-fated decision to bring in Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda; a move which has had a knock-on effect between the sticks ever since. Thankfully, the club haver made an attempt to fix the problem this summer, providing us with a welcome sense of stability heading into the new campaign.
When Mandanda first swapped the south of France for SE25, hopes for high over what he would offer. Internationally capped with France and adored by the Marseille faithful, it felt as though we finally had a keeper worthy of holding down the undisputed spot as number one. Sadly, Steve failed to ever settle into life in London, with a knee injury sustained against Burnley in early November putting him out for the rest of the season.
There were suggestions that Mandanda was fit and ready to go as early as February, with the club themselves keeping him out of the side given his obvious desperation to return home to France. Despite signing a multi-year deal at Selhurst Park, the Frenchman was sold back Marseille in the summer of 2017, leaving the Eagles back at square one in their search for a long-term successor to Hennessey and Speroni.
During the January transfer window, it had looked as though we’d be pushing through a deal for Vicente Guaita but with Getafe refusing to sanction a transfer, we were left with no option but to wait until the end of the 2017/18 campaign, forcing Roy Hodgson into persevering with Hennessey as the Eagles’ number one.
Now, Vicente has officially arrived in south London and appears ready to get down to work with an enthusiasm we never saw from the aforementioned Mandanda. Both Hennessey and Speroni have signed contract extensions (three and one year respectively) and for the first time in years, we have a clearly defined pecking order in terms of our first-team goalkeeping options.
There were some within the Spanish sporting press who were banging the drum for Guaita to be included in Spain’s 2018 World Cup squad, so impressive was he for Getafe last term. At 31, he has all the tools to be a perfect fit for us for at least two or three years, backed up well by both Wayne and Julian.
It’s taken us a while but we finally appeared to have solved the goalkeeping conundrum that has been looming ominously overhead.