As Michael Olise stood over a free-kick in the 91st minute at Selhurst Park on Wednesday night, there was an air of quiet. Hushed expectation of what was to come. With that wondrous left foot, he stepped up and fired in a superb free-kick, straight off the underside of David de Gea’s crossbar and into the back of the net.
His celebration was almost non-existent. He’d just scored one of the goals of the season to save his side a point and he walked away with nothing more than a shrug. Perhaps it was just a sign of his utmost confidence, and quality. It was also a sign of Palace’s own quality - in the transfer market.
Olise was just 18 years old when he began to star at Reading and having signed a deal with a release clause of just £8.3m, Premier League clubs were circling. Palace triggered that deal in the summer of 2021, snapping up the EFL Young Player of the Year for a bargain price.
- Man Utd may count cost of Casemiro absence
- Richest club in the world?
- Premier League odds with Betfred*
It is a deal that is clearly bearing fruit for Patrick Vieira and the club, both in the present and the future. If the French U21 international is sold on, it will be for a hefty profit. Dipping into the Championship has been an incredibly fruitful endeavour for Palace in recent years, especially when you compare those transfers to the ones from the big clubs.
Ebere Eze was bought from QPR for £17m and is clearly a gem. His talent was obvious for all to see in the second tier, but making the step up is difficult. Along with Olise, Palace have bagged two EFL gems, guided by Sporting Director Dougie Freedman.
They’ve never been particularly big spenders, but spending their money wisely has allowed the Eagles to stay well away from danger. Strangely, their two most expensive signings have both been from Liverpool - with varying rates of success.
Christian Benteke was the statement signing in 2016 after the FA Cup final appearance and stayed for six years. He didn’t score as many as he should have, and was arguably an underappreciated forward, but he helped keep Palace in the league - even if his price tag was a little steep.
Mamadou Sahko made 64 appearances across four seasons, and left on a free having joined for a huge £26m. One again, Liverpool got the better end of that deal, but it seems Palace have certainly learnt something since then.
Now, their investments go into players they are likely to make a return on. £18m on Marc Guehi was a hefty fee, but one they will certainly be able to recoup, given he is just 22 and about to break into the England team.
Chris Richards, the same age, looks like he has a big future ahead of him having made his Premier League debut. An outlay of £10.5m could prove to be a bargain in the coming years, and he certainly has the pedigree, having joined from Bayern Munich.
Their opponents this weekend, Newcastle United, are also getting their signings right since the takeover, but they’ll soon be shopping in a different market altogether.
Essentially, the key for Palace is not to buy from the big boys, but sell to them. Much as rivals Brighton have done in recent years. The value simply isn’t there when it comes to the big six cast-offs, but they are often willing to spend big on Premier League stars that have been nurtured by clubs such as Palace. Having developed them, it’s also important to cash in when the money is right.
But the Selhurst Park club are on the right track. Their recruitment is smart, and over the next couple of seasons they should bear the fruits of their emerging young stars.
*18+ | BeGambleAware