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Crystal Palace are close to completing their second transfer of the season, as they have agreed a deal with FC Porto for defender Bruno Martins Indi (Sky Sports).
The Dutch centre-half, who spent last season on loan at Stoke City, was widely expected to return to the Bet365 Stadium on a permanent basis, but Palace have managed to edge out Mark Hughes’ side and the deal is now subject to a medical and agreement of personal terms, according to the reports.
The Eagles’ top priority under new boss Frank de Boer was to bring in a new centre-back in order to plug the squad which was short on numbers in central defence. At the start of the summer, their top target was Liverpool’s Mamadou Sakho.
The Frenchman, who spent the second half of the last season on loan at the Selhurst Park, had a major role in helping the team to safety under former boss Sam Allardyce. So much so that despite spending a little over four months with Palace, he was nominated for the club Player of the Year award. So, it wasn’t a big surprise when they tried to get him on a permanent deal. But, any potential move for the defender was put to rest by Liverpool’s £30million price-tag on the 27-year old.
However, Palace might have found the perfect alternative in the form of Martins Indi. The 25-year old is a left-footed centre-half, and can even slot in as a left-back as well, providing the manager with an added option.
Martins Indi was an ever present for Stoke last season, making 35 Premier League appearances, in which he managed to score one goal. The Porto man is tall and poses a daunting presence in the backline and has a more robust outlook than Sakho.
While a comparison of last season’s numbers between the two would be unfair, considering that Sakho just played 8 league games in the entire season, they do indicate that the Dutchman has a better pass accuracy from the back and also has a better tackle success. A good ball playing defender with the ability to retain and accurately distribute possession, Martins Indi will be a right fit to De Boer’s philosophy of possession based football, which he will try and implement at the Selhurst Park next season.
The 25-year old backs it up with solid defensive nous, the ability to keep his head in the game and stay alert all the time and strong positional sense. A good reader of situations, he makes key interceptions and does not dive into tackles recklessly. But when he does go into a tackle, he ends up winning the ball more often than not.
A constant fixture in the Netherlands international squad, Martins Indi was part of the FIFA World Cup 2014 squad that finished third in the tournament. Till date, he has gone on to make over 30 appearances for the Oranje.
At 25, Martins Indi still has his best years ahead of him and has shown great signs so far. And having proven himself in the Premier League last season, the question of adaptability to new conditions isn’t something that De Boer or Palace should be worried about. All in all, this transfer has the potential to be a very good one for the Eagles and if Martins Indi manages to get into his stride, it is very much likely that missing out on Sakho will not bother the fans as much.