Crystal Palace target Andrea Conti allegedly snubbed a chance to join the Eagles in the summer, according to reports.
Conti’s agent, while speaking to MilanNews (via Sport Witness), revealed that Palace – amongst some other European clubs – had enquired about the full-back, but he opted to stay and fight for his place at the San Siro.
Conti, 25, joined AC Milan in 2017 from Atalanta but has failed to be a first-teamer since joining the club. Last season, he made 12 appearances in Serie A, and this year he has made just five – so there’s no reason why the Eagles wouldn’t target the defender given his lack of first-team opportunities.
Mario Giuffredi – Conti’s agent – did not leave any ambiguity when asked about whether his client had been subject to other offers.
He said: “Yes, in the summer he had Parma, Werder Bremen, Crystal Palace, Spal, and other teams, at least 5-6 proposals. But he insisted on staying here at Milan. They were proposals that we didn’t look for, but they came by themselves.”
With Joel Ward getting injured on the weekend, the question of why the club did not replace their player of the year Aaron Wan-Bissaka is looking more pertinent by the day.
After the club made a reported £50m on the sale of the youth product, Dougie Freedman and the recruitment team opted against reinvesting the money on a right-back, leaving just Joel Ward and Martin Kelly – who is much more comfortable at right-back nowadays (as said by Dominic Fifield in the Athletic) – as the options on the right side of defence.
However, as this story suggests, it seems like those behind the scenes at Selhurst Park had their eyes on this Milan player.
Despite Conti not being the first choice at the club – with Davide Calabria playing the majority of the games – he would still be an important option at Palace.
His skills are untested in the Premier League, but quite simply, those in red and blue just need more options.
His ability to play both on the right of midfield and defence show that he is very capable at getting forward – something which Joel Ward isn’t particularly great at. Despite Conti having a limited pool of data to compare from, his 82.4 per cent passing success rate far surpasses Ward’s 75.9, while his 0.8 key passes and 0.6 dribbles per game are much more than Ward’s 0.2 and 0.3 respectively (stats per WhoScored).
Even though Conti’s stats are limited and he is still yet to prove himself in a Milan shirt, the options he could have provided Palace could be really useful for the club at this moment.
With the Eagles not knowing how long Ward might miss with the groin injury, the replacement of Conti would be much more encouraging than playing Martin Kelly there for the first time this season.
Conti also would’ve given Palace more versatility, by having the option of someone who is more capable of going forward on that right-flank, rather than Ward who – despite being very efficient defensively – provides very little going forward, as suggested by his 0 goals or assists this season.
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