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Crystal Palace should hijack Newcastle’s move for Miha Zajc

According to the Calciomercato, Newcastle and Huddersfield Town are among the clubs who are interested in signing Empoli’s Slovenian playmaker Miha Zajc in January.

The same report claims that the 24-year-old has expressed his desire to play in the Premier League and he might move to England in a loan deal with an option to buy next summer.

Zajc, who is likely to available for a fee of around £5-6 million, will be an appropriate signing for either of the two relegation contending teams, with both of them struggling for creativity in the final third.

The 24-year-old, who has been capped by Slovenia 11 times at the senior international level, played for Slovenian clubs Interlock, Olimpija Ljubljana and Celje before joining Serie A outfit Empoli in January 2017. He made a positive impact but that was not enough for his club to avoid relegation from the top flight.

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However, he was one of the driving forces behind Empoli’s promotion-winning campaign in the Serie B, accumulating 8 goals and 14 assists from 41 appearances. The Slovenian playmaker has hit the ground running in the Serie A this term as well, scoring 2 goals and providing 2 assists from 18 games.

Primarily a traditional tailor-made No.10, Zajc ticks all the boxes for a central attacking midfielder. His main attributes are his sound technique, creative passing and incredible vision.

He is comfortable with the ball at his feet and keeps excellent close control in tight areas, making space for himself to break free with clever one-touch passes and sharp turns. Zajc is not as quick as a winger but he has a good turn of pace, which coupled with his agility and sharpness, allows him to get the better of his defensive counterparts.

Blessed with good tactical awareness, Zajc has two or three passing options at the back of his mind whenever he receives the ball and he has shown that he has the vision and the necessary skill set to execute defence-splitting lobbed passes to create goal scoring opportunities. He likes to occupy the half spaces in between the centre-backs and the full-backs, where he either creates chances with his exquisite passing or makes runs into the box to finish off the chances.

To put things into perspective, he would be a fantastic signing for Crystal Palace in January, with the Eagles in dire need of adding a creative ace to spice up their midfield options. 

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However, Palace should look to add another fresh face or two in January to bolster their misfiring and toothless attack which has yielded only 19 goals so far. Palace have all the makings of a good mid-table team but they have been hit hard by the lack of a genuine No.10 in their ranks, leaving Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend to cut frustrated figures up front due to lack of supply.

The Eagles have lacked the supply lines in the midfield to build up attacks and the chance creation has been more or less based on the strikers winning the long balls and holding up the play. That ploy hasn’t worked in the absence of Christian Benteke as neither Zaha nor Townsend is too good at hold-up play.

Read More:- Find a new goalkeeper, get rid of deadwood and more: Three things Crystal Palace need to do to this January to strengthen chances of a top-ten finish

They signed Max Meyer to improve cohesion in the final third but the German has failed to make an impact due to lack of support. Hence, Roy Hodgson can pull off a masterstroke by uniting Miha Zajc with Meyer as the two can form a deadly midfield combination by working in tandems, which in turn, will take Palace to greater heights in the Premier League.

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