This article forms part of our Profit Players feature series, which is where Football Transfer Tavern takes a look at how well a player has fared since being signed or sold, using statistical figures and statements from pundits to prove how good of a deal the club managed to achieve.
Since Martin Kelly joined Crystal Palace in August 2014 for a fee of £1.8m (per Transfermarkt), he has had to settle for being somewhat of a bit-part player. While he has made over 100 appearances, he’s only ever made over 20 in a year once since the first season he swapped Merseyside for the capital.
Apart from his first-ever campaign in red and blue – where he played 31 times at both right-back and left-back – the defender has mainly had to be relied on as back-up, being asked to play anywhere along the backline, for either when other defenders are injured or face suspensions.
Indeed, considering he is now in his sixth campaign with the club, the Eagles have well and truly got their monies worth. Certainly, Palace haven’t always had the best of luck with injuries with defenders and when Scott Dann and Kelly were called upon last season with Mamadou Sakho and James Tomkins injured, Roy Hodgson waxed lyrical about the defender.
He said in April: “I must say in particular that the two centre-backs, Scott Dann and Martin Kelly, have stepped up to the plate quite incredibly in very difficult games; we have always known the confidence and the ability to play in the Premier League but kept out by two guys playing very, very well and they’ve had to wait for their chance but it’s good they’ve got that chance and good they’ve shown their ability and they’ve done it in games where we could’ve been expected to lose, Newcastle away and Arsenal away.”
Averaging more tackles per game last season alone than the aforementioned Tomkins (per WhoScored) and only slightly fewer interceptions than someone like Patrick van Aanholt – who will look to rob possession as often as he can to launch a counter – the one-cap England international certainly looks like someone who can perform his role admirably.
Arguably, Kelly’s most iconic moment for the club must have come with his goal against Tottenham in the run-up to the 2016 FA Cup final. Indeed, the red and blue army faced their hardest game of the competition so far with a fixture away at Spurs in the final 16 and his goal on the brink of half-time was enough to send them through.
So, having spent such little money for a player to step in over 100 times in Croydon and one to make a considerable defensive impact whenever called upon, his value to the side can be considered much more than a relatively paltry £1.8m.
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