If you cast your minds back to the beginning of the season, you may have been forgiven for feeling that Crystal Palace had big ambitions for the future.
Roy Hodgson’s side had just competed in the Premier League for the seventh consecutive season in a row to tie the club’s all-time record for the longest ever spell in the top flight, and Steve Parish seemed prepared to break out the cheque book.
Selhurst Park bore witness to a wave of new signings, including Michy Batshuayi, Eberechi Eze and Nathan Ferguson, to usher in what was seen by many as a new era for the club. However, fast forward several months later, and very little has arguably changed between now and then, as Palace currently lie 13th in the table, only one place higher than where they finished last season.
The Guardian’s Ben Fisher recently reported that Ivan Toney was one of the names on their shortlist in the summer of 2020. The link certainly made sense. Palace were in dire need of a new centre-forward and Toney was seen as the perfect fit.
But unfortunately for Hodgson, Brentford got there first, leaving the Eagles to rue their missed opportunity as he has taken to life in the Championship like a duck to water.
The scorer of 23 goals and supplier of nine assists for Thomas Frank’s men, the 24-year-old’s heroics have caught the eye of a number of Premier League clubs, including local London rivals West Ham, as he looks destined to make the jump to the top flight next term.
For context, Toney has almost scored more goals by himself this season than the entire Palace squad (27), which is a pretty shocking statistic.
An absolute nightmare for defenders to deal with due to his unpredictable mix of sheer size, strength and agility, the former Peterborough forward is an unrelenting force to be reckoned with, having scored 24 goals in 32 League One appearances last season.
If we compare Toney with Batshuayi this term, the English national is light years ahead of his Belgian counterpart. Toney takes 2.9 shots on average per 90 in the Championship whereas Batshuayi can barely muster 0.7 shots per game in the Premier League.
The Bees signed Toney from the Posh for a reported fee believed to be in the region of £5m plus add-ons. Had Palace pulled the trigger, it’s hard to imagine that their attack wouldn’t have improved.
AND in other news, Crystal Palace have struck gold with Eberechi Eze…