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March 9 2021 1.55am

Time to dip back into the Championship market?

December 17 2020

Selhurst Park

Selhurst Park

Crystal Palace should enter into the Championship market once again after the success of Eberechi Eze, writes Mark Blake.

Palace aren't renowned for their financial clout, however, the Eagles hierarchy decided to shell out 20m on QPR's Eze at the end of August. He signed a five-year deal at Selhurst Park and became the club's third most expensive purchase of all time.

Despite some initial scepticism surrounding the 22-year's old ability to cut it at the highest level, the energetic playmaker has more than justified his price tag so far. Although the budget is likely to be a lot tighter this time around, Palace will undoubtedly still be aiming to strengthen when the transfer window opens in January, and as a result, they may turn their attention to the second tier once again.

There have been a number of standout performers in the Championship so far this season, and Palace's scouting network will have been keeping a keen eye on the likes of Bright Osayi-Samuel, Harry Souttar, Emi Buendia and Callum Styles. David Brooks is also likely to be on the wish list of many Premier League clubs, however, the Bournemouth winger is likely to command a significant fee.

The Cherries, who have been installed as the 9/4 favourites in the Championship odds from Betfair, are likely to receive plenty of offers for the skilful Welshman, and Palace will probably choose to look elsewhere for reinforcements this winter.

The aforementioned Styles could be a good fit, with the 20-year old versatile midfielder, who is nicknamed the 'Bury Baggio' having picked up numerous awards already this season.

Reading also have a number of young talents in their squad, with both Michael Olise and Ovie Ejaria having impressed in recent months. Harry Toffolo, who has put in a number of buccaneering performances on the left-hand side for Huddersfield this season could also be an option.

The step up to the Premier League can be tricky, and many players have struggled to adapt to the rigours of the top flight, however, Eze has excelled since arriving in South London and has undoubtedly improved Palace's attack. As of November 15, he's played 678 minutes, with only six Eagles players having spent more time on the field this season.

Eze's willingness to play on the left has also freed up Wilfried Zaha, with the Ivorian able to take up a more central role. Following a disappointing 2019-20 campaign, the Palace number 11 has returned to form, firing in seven goals in his first ten appearances.

The pair have struck up an understanding and have combined well in recent weeks. Eze provided an assist for his team-mate during the 5-1 demolition of West Brom at the beginning of December, and the deadly duo look highly likely to strike again.

Palace desperately needed to add some impetus to their attack this season, and the arrival of Eze has given them far more purpose in the final third. They appear to have struck gold this summer when they captured the former QPR man, and they could do far worse than set their sights on the Championship once again.

Although prices often become a little inflated during the January window, there is still plenty of talent to be unearthed in the second tier, and Roy Hodgson's squad could certainly benefit from one or two additions in crucial areas.

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