A statement of intent from a club aware of how the Premier League is growing and how much a top quality goalkeeper can earn you an extra few points over the course of a season.
Despite a very poor season by Marseille’s traditionally high standards, Mandanda was a real standout performer. He regularly kept his side in games, as the offence struggled to score often enough and the defence buckled all too easily, before he would heroically keep out the opposition.
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It’s very easy to say he won them points on his own. In a three-game stretch late on in the season, the 31-year-old averaged 9.5 saves per goal and conceded just three times as his solidity earned his side a point in each game.
It is not hard to imagine that if it wasn’t for his work between the sticks, Marseille would be playing Ligue 2 football in the upcoming season, and he was the deserved winner of the Goalkeeper of the Year at the Trophees UNFP du football for the second year running, his fourth in total.
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Add to that the fact that some fans in France called for him to start at the Euro 2016 ahead of Hugo Lloris, which certainly speaks for itself. The captain would have never been dropped, but the quality behind him has French fans at ease should the Tottenham Hotspur man slip up or get injured.
He brings a wealth of prior experience, with over 350 appearances for Marseille, that include caps in the Champions League, and in the Europa League. He’s also been capped 22 times by the national side and having that backing up your defence can only be a huge positive.
It’s an area that Palace have had a weakness in for a while, with Wayne Hennessey wildly inconsistent, Alex McCarthy yet to justify his place, and Julian Speroni on the decline. They needed a new marshal between the posts and there’s no doubt they have a great one in Mandanda.
This move was a masterstroke from Crystal Palace.
Reportedly fighting off the likes of Chelsea and Everton for his signature, shows the real intent they have to improve in the ever-competitive top flight of English football, and adding this to other early moves, they are building another formidable entity that could see them get even further than last season’s FA Cup final appearance.
More than just a quality goalkeeper, Mandanda brings experience and leadership to a side that have been lacking in between the sticks, and that can be so hard to find in the transfer market, especially on a free transfer.
He may have cost nothing, but there’s no doubt in how much value he will bring to this growing football team.
Does Crystal Palace signing Steve Mandanda prove that smaller teams in the Premier League are getting stronger? Let us know YOUR thoughts in the comment section below!
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