Normally, 11:30pm transfer announcements are saved for Deadline Day but last night, Palace chose it as the time to reveal that West Ham midfielder Cheikhou Kouyaté had agreed to make the switch to Selhurst Park, signing a four-year contract.
The 28-year-old has made just under 150 appearances for the Hammers since joining them from Anderlecht in 2014, highlighting his importance to their side in recent times. He’s also been capped 42 times by Senegal and was part of the squad which travelled to Russia for the 2018 World Cup, making three appearances for them, including a start in their 1-0 defeat to Colombia.
Known as a central midfielder, Cheikhou will offer Roy Hodgson a sense of much needed depth following the departures of Yohan Cabaye and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, whilst his ability to provide cover in the centre of defence could also prove to come in extremely handy over the course of what is sure to be a topsy-turvy Premier League campaign.
The majority of West Ham fans I’ve spoken to feel as though Kouyaté was a wonderful player in his first season (at Upton Park) but has fallen off a figurative cliff since their move to The London Stadium, prompting plenty to wonder if the wider and longer pitch may have had a detrimental effect on his overall game in claret and blue. If that is the case and I am inclined to trust those who watch him every week ahead of everyone else, he could prove to be something of a revelation at Selhurst Park.
The reported fee is £9.5 million, with another £1.5 million potentially heading the Irons’ way in performance related add-ons. Of course, when a player of Kouyaté’s age signs a four-year deal, you’re accepting a very small chance of there being any sell-on value whatsoever but despite that, it feels like a much-needed boost for Roy Hodgson’s midfield ahead of the looming Premier League season.