Mark the date. Thursday 24th January 2019, we made our first signing of the transfer window.
Having entered January in dire need of a goal scorer, as well as more options on the wings, we have had to wait for incomings, while watching five outfield players depart. The long wait is over though, the contract is signed, the promo video recorded, and Chris Grierson has held the first interview. At last our goal shy team can welcome its newest Brazilian asset...goalkeeper Lucas Perri!
Ok, so yes, I had to make a little joke of it. With the days ticking down, more and more linked targets moving elsewhere and the feeling of impending disappointment ever growing, I had to do something to lighten the mood right? Oh, and yes, I did spend ages trying to think of some catchy Nandos line for the title, only to eventually give up and go with something simple.
So, we have one over the line. Perri is 21 years old, stands 6'4" tall and comes from Brazilian giants Sao Paulo, albeit he is yet to make a senior appearance for them. There has been some criticism of this deal, namely that we have three senior keepers on the booms already, and our transfer needs most certainly lie elsewhere. At one point, the disgruntlement was fuelled by the fact that the news of his possible arrival broke days after we were told both Guaita and Hennessey would be out for four weeks or so, making it seem like a knee jerk reaction. However, in his press conference last week, Roy dispelled that by stating Dougie had been working on the deal for a few months, having scouted Perri for a while. Naturally though, this does not stop the moaners doing what they do best, and that of course, is moaning. They have moaned about how this is a waste of time. How he will never play, like Rakip, so what is the point. They say it is a waste of wages, that he is unproven and not worth our time. Personally though, I think we may well have pulled one out of the bag(rare I know).
While it is hard to not feel like an anger fuelled transfer
rage could be coming on February 1st, when we still have no goal scorer, credit
needs to be given when it is due, and I think it could be due here. While we
may feel like we don't need a goalie, we probably do more than we realise.
Looking at it short term, both Vicente and Wayne are currently injured, leaving
us with just Jules, the total legend that he is. The impression I have gotten
from interviews, is that Wayne's injury was not as bad as Vicente's, and that
he is more likely to be back quicker, with Vicente's return date a little less
certain. However, Wayne made the decision to be an idiot on a team night out,
and now deservedly faces a ban, which could be at a minimum, five games. So,
that means we could be into March before either of our first or second choice
keepers are available, meaning Perri's addition will be a welcome one. Looking
at it long term, Jules will most certainly retire in the summer. Our current
predicament shows that have a decent third option is a good idea, so Perri
would fill that role. Wayne will only have a year or two more on his contract,
and let's face it, most of us would happily see him go, so the presence of Perri
would make that a much more viable option as we would have the cover.
These two outlooks, for me, show that making this move has its benefits, and could be a wise choice. For once, we would have done some form of business early. Not only that, but the structure of the deal itself should be applauded. The initial move is a loan, and it is said that we have an option to make it permanent in the summer for around £3m. I have to ask, what about that deal sounds anything other then excellent? We get Perri for 5 months, giving us a chance to see him first hand. Scouting him at another club is one thing, but surely it is far more beneficial to see how he works in our environment? He gets to train with our players, work with our management team, and experience Premier League match days up close. On the flipside, Roy and Ray get to watch him, they get to see if he is up to scratch, if he is worth making the move permanent. For all parties, that is win-win. If he is worth it, we can then make the move permanent, and for a bargain fee. If we don't think he makes the grade, then he goes back to Sao Paulo and no one has lost anything. Like I say, if the £3m price mentioned is right, what a bargain that would be. With Kepa and Allison moving in the summer for huge fees, while Pickford cost £30m after half a season, £3m would be a great investment. So for that, I say well played to all involved. Maybe we have learned some lessons, because let's face it, we have signed some real duds in recent times, who perhaps, had they been here on loan first, would never have gained permanent status.
So what about the player himself? Well, I will be honest,
until two weeks ago, I had no idea who he was. What Palace fan had? Even so, I
am quietly excited about the move. In the past, we have all seen players come
in and carry out their interview, and it has felt a little false. Having
watched this interview, I saw a player who may be young in age, but seemed to
have a mature head on his shoulders. He is here on his own, in the UK for the
first time, yet seems unfazed. His spoken English is phenomenal. When you consider
the likes of Guaita and even Luka struggle with it, Perri's English is
fantastic, which in itself will help him jump a massive hurdle in commanding
his box and shows he is motivated to learn. Not only that, but I very much felt
from that interview, that Lucas both understands and appreciates the
opportunity he has ahead of him. He is in the Premier League now, and has the
chance to earn a permanent spot here(if we stay up of course). Hell, he may
even be playing in the league or FA Cup in the coming weeks, so the chance is
there for him to grab with two gloved hands. I get the impression, he will work
hard to make sure that he takes his chance.
Will it prove a good signing, or will we have another Mandanda/Kebe/Mutch dud of a transfer? Right now, who knows. What I do know, is that the other South American with an Italian passport on our books is a club legend, and with him about to hang up his gloves, perhaps the time has come for the arrival of another? We can but hope!