The Crystal Palace fans in the Transfer Tavern were bitterly disappointed by the extent of Christian Benteke’s impact last season and, as such, they are eager to see a replacement centre-forward arrive at Selhurst Park this summer.
Roy Hodgson successfully guided the Eagles to safety last season after embarking on an emphatic run of results during the final months of the season, but their success certainly didn’t arrive as a consequence of any goalscoring exploits from Benteke. The Belgium striker was desperately devoid of confidence throughout the campaign as he failed to find the back of the net when glaring opportunities presented themselves, losing his place in Roberto Martinez’s World Cup squad in the process.
Palace’s main objective for the new season will be to steer clear of another relegation scrap and potentially make a push for Europa League football if they get off to a bright start to the campaign, but they will need to replace Benteke in order to achieve that objective.
With that in mind, Hodgson should be scouting the market for potential players to join him in South London this summer, and one player who should certainly be on his radar is Mario Balotelli.
The 27-year-old striker who is infamously known in English football has quietly established himself as a clinical goalscorer with Nice in Ligue 1 during the past two seasons, but his spell with the club will come to an end when his contract expires at the end of June.
Balotelli’s decision to let his contract expire means he will be available to sign on a free transfer this summer and, considering he bagged a whopping 26 goals from 38 appearances in all-competitions last season – including 6 from 7 in the Europa League – Hodgson would be foolish not to offer him a contract.
Palace have the financial resources to meet his wage demands along with the appeal of a move to the capital to offer Balotelli, so a potential deal should carry at least a small level of appeal to the former Liverpool and Man City talent.
The Italy international is something of an enigma due to his bizarre antics away from the field, but on the field he is a clinical goalscorer who has proven his worth since leaving England permanently for Nice in 2016.
His ability to find the back of the net in promising goal-scoring positions is exactly what Palace were missing last season, so they have nothing to lose by offering the 27-year-old a contract in a bid to replace Benteke with a bargain free transfer.
Crystal Palace fans – thoughts? Let us know below!
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