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  • Exclusive by Alessandro Schiavone

Crystal Palace: KV Westerlo's Nicolas Madsen to replace the crocked Doucoure?

Photo: Nicolas Madsen's Official Instagram profile (@nicolas_madsen)

EXCLUSIVE by Alessandro Schiavone at Stade du Pays de Charleroi

The assumption is that things will soon turn around at Selhurst Park because apparently a crisis has never lasted ages under Roy Hodgson. But the evidence on the pitch suggests otherwise as Crystal Palace have lost four of their last Premier League matches. Making matters worse, the south Londoners now have to come to terms with Cheick Doucoure’s lengthy spell on the sidelines after the former Lens man picked up a serious injury in the 2-1 reversal against Luton Town at Kenilworth Road on Saturday.

Apart from being a midfielder short, the goal charts make for a grim viewing because it’s easy to notice that putting the ball into the back of the net is not the speciality of the house. If Hodgson’s goal-shy Eagles have produced eight different goalscorers in the league for a total of 13, only of them has a midfield source, Jeffrey Schlupp. That’s way too little for a side which has the aspiration to at least classify itself in the top ten come the end of the season. Midfield is where games are won and lost and Palace need open-heart surgery in this position. After scouting several candidates across Europe's top eight leagues, KV Westerlo’s Nicolas Madsen has been identified by Capital Football as the ideal candidate to inject both steel and silk into proceedings. And of course goals, something that Will Hughes, Jefferson Lerma and the unfortunate Cheick Doucure are not all too familiar with, having yet to break the duck among themselves in 30 Premier League outings. Madsen could be the answer to many a problem in January with the Dane emerging as one of the most prolific holding midfielders in the world thus far this term having bagged his FIFTH goal of the Jupiler Pro League campaign in the 3-2 defeat at Charleroi on Saturday. On the turf where England suffered a humiliating exit from EURO 2000 at the hands of Romania, Madsen gave a sublime account of himself, scoring one of the finest goals of the Belgian weekend. A goal that was nothing short of sublime with his powerful dipping strike from distance catching out Charleroi keeper Herve Koffi. In Wallonia, his clean striking technique caught the eye as the player excels in translating his dribbling speed into shot power. And he's also so easy on the eye. Overall he delivered the goods in the middle of the park, not least in the first period when he didn't give Ilaimaharitra and Zorgane an inch. At Stade du Pays de Charleroi his outstanding (innate?) ability to unmark himself with his back to goal to give the advancing fullbacks a passing option and tendency to look for pockets of space where he can receive the ball before doing the damage didn't go unnoticed. And Palace could certainly do with a midfielder of his imposing stature who is likely to take the Premier League in his stride and show the way with his silent leadership. And the timing is perfect. With the Hoops languishing in the lower reaches of the league and in dire need of recruits in January, the Under 21 Danish’s experience (he has played in Denmark, Holland and Belgium's top-flights and has over 100 games under his belt), tactical acumen and eye for goal would be a step in the right direction. Since losing club legend Wilfried Zaha to Galatasaray, goals have dried up and this is particularly felt when Ebere Eze is absent or has a bad day at the office. For Madsen, who has managed five alone in 12 scraps, scoring goals appears to be child’s play right now. And on top of doing the hardest thing in the game exceptionally well, he can offer a variety of solutions in and out possession. His entries into the box with or without the ball and his refined shooting technique are something that could lift the gloom and spirits in no time in south London. In a better team with better players like Palace, his level could rise a notch or two. And the Premier League would be his real acid test. For Palace, who unlike many other clubs don't have cash to burn, a clearout of flops is not even necessary to help fund his recruit. It's understood that the Belgian minnows are likely asking around £10-15m to let him go. This is not overly unreasonable in a day and age when holding midfielders, the most expensive accessories on the market, are going for no less than £100 million. But his capture would be more than reasonable...

Scoreline: Charleroi 3-2 Westerlo


RCSC Charleroi

16 Koffi- 2 Bager- 3 Knezevic- 6 Zorgane- 8 Guiagon- 15 Dragsnes- 17 Bernier- 21 Andreou- 23 Benbouali- 26 Ilaimaharitra- 29 Rogelj

KVC Westerlo

1 Bolat- 3 Haidara- 5 Bos- 8 Madsen- 15 Sydorchuk- 22 Reynolds- 25 Rommens-40 Bayram- 46 Piedfort- 76 Stassin- 79 Matsuo


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