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  • Exclusive by Alessandro Schiavone

Crystal Palace should stay away from the 'new Mateta' whom Hoddle would compare to Andy Cole

By Alessandro Schiavone at AFAS Stadion, Mechelen

KV Mechelen 1-1 KRC Genk

The “Nigerian Jean-Philippe Mateta” Tolu Arokodare showed once again that he’s a hit-and-miss striker. Capable of producing the fireworks with a poacher’s goal as he did when he buried a rebound yesterday. But at the same time the KRC Genk centre-forward can be so frustrating to watch as his hat-trick of fluffed headers reflected. Had he buried only one of them in the second-half he would gifted last season’s Jupiler Pro League runners-up the win against KV Mechelen. With the last kick of the first 45 minutes, he also fired a volley over the crossbar on the turn from a tight angle. But that was maybe asking too much and in his defence a Mechelen defender got tight on him the moment he got his shot off. And you need to be either Erling Haaland or Marco Van Basten to find the back of the net from there. Yet if Crystal Palace are looking to add to their attacking armoury, the towering centre-forward may not be their man. The Eagles already poached Arokodare’s teammate Daniel Muñoz last month and although they are looking for a new no.9 to lead the line next term, with Odsonne Edouard and Mateta anything but convincing in front of goal, they should look elsewhere. Because Arokodare is not fit for Premier League purpose and could do with another season in Belgium. He has all the hallmarks of being another Paul Onuachu if he goes to England. But at least his countryman used to bang in the goals on the other side of the channel. Overlooked for the Africa Cup of Nations with head coach Jose Peseiro understandably calling up Victor Osimhen, Terem Moffi and Kelechi Iheanacho instead the 23-year old Genk striker has some fine-tuning and polishing to do first before he can dream bigger. Both he and Mateta struggled in the Bundesliga with Cologne and Mainz respectively. Though they have a lot more in common, including their physical attributes, industry, overall style of play, good hold-up play and the way they work the defenders hard. Hence it’s difficult to tell them apart from a fifth-floor press box as at the Afas Stadion. Or maybe not so much…given the tsunami of fiascos in the box and litany of sloppy passes that unites the pair. In the nineties England manager Glenn Hoddle snubbed a phenomenal centre-forward like Andy Cole because he “needed too many chances to score”. Equally, Three Lions dugout one-timer Roy Hodgson should look elsewhere for the new Mateta. Or else Palace will end up with another Mateta. Because for all the stuff he's doing well, Arokodare's seven Jupiler Pro League goals in 24 outings are clearly no reason to take him to south London.


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