Crystal Palace plot double move for under-the-radar Frenchmen
Tony Pulis’ Crystal Palace revolution looks set to continue apace this summer, with the south Londoners linked with a double-raid on Ligue 1 for a pair of French finds at opposite stages of their careers.
After all-but knocking Liverpool out of the Premier League title race when coming back from 3-0 down to draw against the Reds last time out, Pulis’ side have the chance to round off a remarkable season in style by beating already-relegated Fulham on the road at 7/4 odds in their last fixture.
However, once the transfer window reopens there will be plenty of illustrious suitors for Palace’s top performers, such as midfield general Mile Jedinak and forwards Yannick Bolasie and Jason Puncheon.
Pulis is acutely aware that he faces a fight to keep hold of the trio and has already admitted that Puncheon could be sold if a big enough bid comes in for the Croydon native, while Bolasie has been linked with a host of clubs from the continent, including Serie A side Fiorentina.
With this in mind, the former Stoke boss has reportedly set his sights on landing 29-year-old Bordeaux winger Nicolas Maurice-Belay and 18-year-old holding-midfielder Thomas Ephestion, of Marseille.
Maurice-Belay has hardly set the heather blazing during his nine-year career in French football so far, managing just one league goal in over 100 appearances for Monaco, Sedan and Sochaux during a six-year period, but the Parisien has found life at the Stade Chaban Delmas somewhat more to his liking.
After helping Francis Gillot’s side win their first Coupe de France for 26 years last term, Maurice-Belay has had his best ever season in front of goal in 2013/14 with three strikes, and has also laid on four assists for teammates to fire home.
Ephestion is much more of an unknown quantity as the teenager is yet to feature in Marseille’s first team, but his performances at youth level have served notice of a burgeoning talent.
According to French publication L’Equipe, Palace have deemed Ephestion ready for a crack at the Premier League and will move for the youngster, who may be seen as a long-term replacement for 29-year-old Australia regular Jedinak.
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