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September 17 2021 4.15am

Alexander Sorloth: The one that got away?

May 15 2021

Alexander Sorloth

Alexander Sorloth

In January 2018, Crystal Palace signed Alexander Sorloth for just over £8m from FC Midtjylland, writes Peter Leyland.

The 6ft 4in attacker moved to Selhurst Park with pressure to perform and score all-important goals for the Eagles but his spell in London didn’t go as planned.

To date, the Norwegian attacker is the 13th most expensive purchase in Palace’s history, but the forward only scored one goal in 20 games, which came in the Carabao Cup against Swansea. So, what went wrong?

Scoring regularly across Europe

Following a lacklustre first 12 months at Palace, Sorloth moved to Gent on a six-month loan deal in January 2019. Upon returning to Selhurst Park, the Eagles sent the Norwegian back out on loan, this time to Trabzonspor, where he registered 44 goal involvements in 49 matches.

His form in Turkey piqued RB Leipzig’s interest, and the Bundesliga club signed the forward for £18 million in September 2020. It wouldn’t take long for Sorloth to inadvertently torment English opposition, scoring a last-minute winner in the Champions League against Istanbul Basaksehir, which played a role in Manchester United’s elimination from the competition.

As a result, the Red Devils dropped into the Europa League and are now in the final, but their opponents, Villarreal, are 7/2 in Europa League winner odds 2021 to claim the trophy, as of May 12th.

As touched on above, Sorloth found his goalscoring form after leaving Crystal Palace. Although the Eagles made a sizeable profit from selling the 25-year-old, they’ve long struggled to find a clinical striker.

From being unable to break into the first team at Selhurst Park, Sorloth was chosen by Julien Nagelsmann as the attacker to replace Timo Werner at the Red Bull Arena. Although he has yet to cement his place in Leipzig's starting side, he’s still recorded a seven-goal involvement stat in his first 28 Bundesliga matches.

Luck wasn’t on Sorloth’s side

Following his prolific spell in Turkey, Sorloth established himself as a sought-after striker in Europe, catching the eye of Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. Although the Norwegian didn’t hit the ground running, luck wasn’t on his side during his spell at Selhurst Park.

Unfortunately for the striker, he had a goal chalked off in only his fourth top-flight appearance for Palace away at Stamford Bridge. If the strike stood, the Eagles would have earned a hard-fought point against Chelsea.

By his own admission, his bad luck didn’t end there. As reports, Sorloth stated that he was supposed to start the following game against Huddersfield but he suffered an injury that kept him out of the squad.

After that, Sorloth wouldn’t play another minute of Premier League football for the Eagles in 2017-18. Things didn’t improve the following season, with Sorloth getting just 173 minutes of action across 12 appearances.

Things could have turned out differently

Sorloth wasn’t a poor buy, and that’s evident from the fact that he’s clearly a competent goalscorer and the profit made on him. However, it’s fair to say that it was a case of the right player at the wrong time.

The 25-year-old's loan spells played a pivotal role in his development, and by the time he was ready to play regularly for Palace, he’d somewhat outgrown the Eagles.

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