Crystal Palace are poised to make their most significant acquisition of Patrick Vieira’s rebuild.
Joachim Andersen is set to sign a five-year deal with the South Londoners reportedly set to agree a deal costing around £20 million.
Added to the defensive recruitment of Marc Guehi, who joined on a long-term basis from London rivals Chelsea, Andersen will supplement Vieira’s squad after Scott Dann, Gary Cahill and Mamadou Sakho left the club.
While Andersen is Lyon’s player, his loan spell at Fulham last season was where the Danish centre back imposed himself and blossomed in a team that slumped to an early relegation.
Despite starting his youth career in his native Denmark, Andersen made a name for himself in professional football with FC Twente.
His impressive rise in Holland led to a move to Sampdoria.
In his second season in the Serie A, Andersen, at the age of just 22, established himself – in a league that celebrates the art of defending – as one of the best in his position.
His imperious performances in Italy led to Lyon shelling out a then club record of an initial €24 million that could have eventually risen to €30 million.
While Andersen failed to settle in France, his spell in the Premier League kickstarted his upward trajectory back into life.
At the heart of Fulham’s defence, Andersen won 99 aerial battles, 150 clearances, and had a tackle success rate of 58 per cent. And despite being a loan player, Scott Parker entrusted Andersen with the captain’s armband just four games into his spell at Craven Cottage.
Andersen has been capped by his country from U16 level through to the national side and was selected for the Denmark team that made it to the semi-finals of Euro 2020.
WHY ANDERSEN MAKES SENSE
The Eagles are only two games into their revolution, but there is already a clear and distinct pattern forming.
Vieira’s attacking phase of play begins with the centre-backs and one deep-lying midfielder acting in the ‘quarterback’ role, who looks to pick out one of the attacking full-backs or pass between the opposition lines.
The possession-based game is well suited to Andersen. The 25-year-old, who was pinpointed as a catalyst for Fulham’s belief that they could survive in the top-flight, showcased his calmness, assuredness and composure when playing out from the back – making the most passes, 1,958, in the league for Fulham last season.
The 4-3-3 appears to be the formation of choice heading into the season, but Vieira has also deployed the 5-2-3 formation in the past. Therefore, signing Andersen, who will join James Tomkins, Martin Kelly, Cheikhou Kouyate and Guehi in defence, allows the French head coach options at his disposal.
Should Andersen partner Guehi, the pair could prove the perfect counterbalance to each other. While both are accomplished with the ball at their feet, Guehi can cover Andersen in terms of pace and recovery speed, while Andersen, who stands at a towering 6ft 4, is more dominant in the air than Guehi.
With the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Manchester United mooted as potential destinations for Andersen this summer, Palace’s capture of the Danish centre-back has been seen as a serious coup.
WHAT IS LEFT FOR PALACE TO DO THIS WINDOW?
Andersen’s rumoured transfer fee could see him become the third most expensive signing made in Palace’s history, but the summer business is still not over for Patrick Vieira’s side.
The Eagles still have both domestic loans available, with Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher the club’s primary target. The midfielder, who spent last season on loan with West Bromwich Albion, might take a bit longer to secure due to his desire to impress Thomas Tuchel during pre-season.
Despite playing both pre-season friendlies against Walsall and Ipswich Town, the club are yet to announce whether Nathaniel Clyne has signed a new deal. With the injury to Nathan Ferguson, the club would be wise to re-sign Clyne or dive into the market for another right-back to support Joel Ward.
With the mass exodus of players at the beginning of the month, Palace still need several first-team bodies. It’s also widely reported that Palace will look to bring in a forward who can play across the front three.
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