Just like that, he was gone.
While there was a distinct inevitability about the departure of Yannick Bolasie to Everton once the Merseysiders’ upped their bid to twenty-five million, it was still hard to prepare for it.
We were told by Alan Pardew at the weekend to expect as much, as were we told Yannick was due to complete a medical in the early part of Monday morning. Come lunch time, it was complete. Not quite a protracted saga, but significant nonetheless.
Significant for a number of reasons, the fee being foremost amongst them.
Much of the sentiment in the wake of Bolasie’s departure centres on the sense that Palace have done well out of this deal. With potential for add-ons, Bolasie stands to become Everton’s record signing, which isn’t bad considering the peanuts he was picked up for from Bristol City by Dougie Freedman in 2012.
It was an impossible amount of money to ignore. In a season where football economics is well and truly eating itself, twenty-five million is quite a modest sum but to receive that amount of money for a player of Bolasie’s undoubted but inconsistent talent is too good to turn down.
One could argue that he is at the peak of his powers. Room for a little improvement, but perhaps not enough to suggest he will lead Everton’s charge towards the top four for the duration of his freshly penned five year contract.
For Bolasie dazzled and infuriated in equal measure, from the beginning of his time at Palace to the very end. Arriving raw and with a point to prove following his stint with Bristol City, Bolasie quickly cemented his place in a surprisingly upwardly mobile Palace side that, alongside Wilfried Zaha, boasted the two most exciting wide players in the Championship.
From the disappointment of only making the bench for the play off final that season. Bolasie had gone from strength to strength, and for many parts of the recent three Premier League seasons has been the side’s standout attacking player. He seemed particularly at home against Liverpool and Everton whenever Palace met them, pitching in with goals and impressive displays on numerous occasions.
Undoubtedly, the highlight of his Palace career was the eye catching display at the Stadium of Light in 2015, where he bagged a wonderful hat-trick and laid on a goal for Glenn Murray in a stomping 4-1 victory that was when many began to stand up and take notice of the mercurial talent that Bolasie is capable of displaying.
But again, even though he was very much a pivotal player over the last four seasons, you would be hard pushed to find a Palace fan not in agreement that the move, for the money involved, is the right one.
If there was a criticism to be levelled at Bolasie, it might stem to consistency, which in itself is linked to his record when it comes to his ‘final product’.
Over the course of the last three Premier League season’s, Yala pitched in with nine goals and fourteen assists in eighty-nine games, and while they are certainly not statistics to be ashamed of, there was a feeling that there could have been that bit more. His crossing and his ability to create chances was never in doubt. His finishing though, left a lot to be desired.
Amidst whatever arguments on the pros and cons of his playing ability, perhaps the biggest significance about his departure is in the affinity that fans have with the core of players who were there in the promotion season. Bolasie’s transfer to Everton marks the first major first team player that has departed the club since promotion. Until now, players leaving the club have been simply not up to it or frustrated at minimal playing time. This represents a first team player seeking a ‘new challenge’, which these days is code word for a mega bucks payout.
The ability of Palace to retain their core and best players while attracting new shinier models was a sign of the progressive times we live in. The exit of Bolasie could well represent the first shift in that power vacuum, as talismanic captain Mile Jedinak looks set to follow suit. With alienation of Julian Speroni, the fading talents of Damein Delaney, Palace’s first choice eleven will soon boast only Joel Ward and Wilfried Zaha from that successful promtion season.
Nothing, of course, should stand still, but it certainly will not prove any comfort to the increasingly frustrated and disillusioned Palace fans to see players who have come to embody the battling spirit of the club in recent years move on to pastures new.
The only way Bolasie’s departure can be softened will be by finding replacements, be that a striker or an equally adept wide player. Perhaps both.
Amidst all the disappointing things about Yannick leaving the club (the seemingly endless rumblings from his representatives angling for new contracts, the ambiguity about his commitment to the club, the numbing reminder that football will always be prone to the curiosity of riches), the most disappointing for many in Selhurst on Saturday was his reaction (or lack thereof) to his impending departure, which was in stark contrast to Mile’s emotional and powerful ‘farewell’.
Knowing he was on his way out, fans made a point of singing his name for five minutes upon his introduction. A gesture of gratitude for the service he gave to the club and a thank you for many of the superb moments he gave us in a Palace shirt. Perhaps we’re being too sentimental at TEB, a simple reciprocation would have been a nice touch. Classy Mile Jedinak he is not.
While sad to see him depart, the club have done well and must surely act quickly to bolster a side in desperate need of reinforcements. And after all, despite the manner with which his time here fizzled out, there is much to thank him for.
Thank you for the wonderful cross at the Amex to set up Wilf’s opener in the play off semi final.
Thank you for Everton, for Liverpool, for Sunderland, for Arsenal.
Thank you for the moments of wizardry that often lit up Selhurst on otherwise drab occasions.
Thank you for Watford, at Wembley.
Thank you for playing with a smile on your face.
Thank you, in part, for the inconsistency and for frustrating us as only talented players can. The wayward shots and miss-hit crosses were all contributing to the payoff when things did go right.
Thank you for the part you played in ensuring Palace have entered their fourth successive Premier League campaign.
And thanks for the twenty-five million, I guess. Should we go on and strengthen up top, then I think it will be one of those good break-ups where neither of us will be secretly checking each other’s Facebook page to see what you’re up to.
You’ve earned your place in Palace hearts these last four years – thanks for the memories.
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