Why Crystal Palace should sign Christian Kouame in January

According to The Sun, Crystal Palace are lining up a swoop for Fiorentina forward Christian Kouame ahead of the January transfer window. The Ivorian international had been a potential target for the Eagles at the start of the year during his stay at Genoa but he eventually ended up joining Fiorentina.

Palace, though, still retain an interest in the highly-rated 23-year-old and could make a move for him when the market reopens next month. Kouame, who has a contract with Fiorentina until 2024, is expected to cost in the region of £15-20million. (h/t The Sun)

Profile

Christian Kouame started his professional career with Prato in the Italian third-tier during the 2015-16 season before rising to prominence with Cittadella in Serie B. A promising tally of 15 goals and 15 assists in 63 appearances paved the way for a switch to the top-flight with Genoa in the summer of 2018.

The 23-year-old went on to enjoy an impressive debut season in the Serie A, registering 4 goals and 5 assists in 38 league appearances as Genoa narrowly survived relegation. He followed it up with 5 goals in 11 league games during the first half of the 2019-20 campaign before joining Fiorentina in January, initially on loan with an obligation to make the move permanent.

acf fiorentina v ac reggiana pre season friendly
FLORENCE, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 12: Christian Kouame of ACF Fiorentina in action at Artemio Franchi on September 12, 2020 in Florence, Italy. (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)

Kouame, though, has struggled for regular game time in Florence, scoring only twice in 20 appearances for La Viola in all competitions. The versatile forward has earned 3 caps for Ivory Coast at the senior international level.

Kouame would add more quality to Palace’s attack

Crystal Palace have enjoyed a decent start to the season with 5 wins from 12 games so far. The Eagles sit 11th in the standings (at the time of writing) with 17 points, having scored 18 goals and conceding 17 in the process. All in all, Roy Hodgson’s side look like real contenders for a top-ten finish, a feat that the club last achieved in the Premier League way back in 2014-15.

Wilfried Zaha’s prolific form has been one of the major positives from Palace’s campaign so far. A rather lean patch last time around saw the Ivorian score only 4 league goals last term but Zaha has fired on all cylinders this term, scoring 7 times in 10 games so far.

The 28-year-old’s heroics could see him emerge as a hot property in the market once again but Palace look well poised to fend off interest in their star man who has a contract until 2023.

The Eagles, though, would be wise enough to reshape their attacking options with one eye on the future. Christian Benteke recently delivered a man-of-the-match performance in the 5-1 rout of West Brom but the Belgian is out of contract next summer. With injuries reducing his productivity to a large extent, Palace need to line up younger alternatives.

acf fiorentina v benevento calcio serie a 1 1
FLORENCE, ITALY – NOVEMBER 22: Christian Kouame’ of ACF Fiorentina in action during the Serie A match between ACF Fiorentina and Benevento Calcio at Stadio Artemio Franchi on November 22, 2020 in Florence, Italy. (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)

Michy Batshuayi had been roped in on loan from Chelsea in the summer with a view to bolstering the club’s goalscoring firepower up top. However, the Belgian has proved to be a massive disappointment so far and Palace will be happy to see him return to Stamford Bridge when his loan spell expires at the end of the season.

Putting things into context, Crystal Palace completing a deal for Christian Kouame in January would be a brilliant long-term investment. Things might not have fallen into place for the Ivorian at Fiorentina but his past exploits at Genoa prove that he’s more than capable of thriving at the highest level in Europe.

Essentially a centre-forward by trade, Kouame has the versatility to operate as a wide attacker on either side of the pitch. With Batshuayi only on loan at Palace and Benteke facing an uncertain future, the Ivorian would offer Hodgson some valuable cover and quality in multiple areas across the forward line in the years to come.

acf fiorentina v ac reggiana pre season friendly 1
FLORENCE, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 12: Christian Kouame of ACF Fiorentina in action at Artemio Franchi on September 12, 2020 in Florence, Italy. (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)

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Verdict

Despite his lack of game time at Fiorentina, Christian Kouame remains an exciting young player with plenty of room for development.

Crystal Palace have roped in some quality young talent in the form of Eberechi Eze and Nathan Ferguson in recent times and Kouame would be yet another fantastic addition to the ranks at Selhurst Park. Having said that, the Eagles shouldn’t hesitate to splash the cash on the Ivorian powerhouse in January.

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