Newcastle and Crystal Palace completed signings last week meaning that every club in the Premier League has now added to their squads. Newcastle and Palace will likely find themselves subject to comparisons throughout this coming season given that Alan Pardew left the former for the latter last season. Another reason is that Palace have now added former Newcastle fan favourite Yohan Cabaye from PSG for a fee of around £10m. I’m sure many Newcastle fans would have liked to see Cabaye rejoin them instead of their former manager, however the signing of Georginio Wijnaldum for £14.5m on Saturday is an excellent alternative, but who has got the better deal?
Cabaye is a real signal of intent for Palace and it’s surprising a bigger club didn’t move for him. It’s fair to say things didn’t work out for Cabaye in Paris, the 29 year old played just 967 minutes last season, scoring once and providing one assist. Cabaye’s move is likely fuelled by getting more game time ahead of the Euro’s next summer.
Wijnaldum on the other hand had no such problem, he captained title winning PSV last season and playing 2878 minutes, almost three times more than Cabaye. He provided 3 assists and scored 14 goals, all of which came from within the penalty area.
At 24, Wijnaldum is five years younger than Cabaye, so Newcastle will feel they have secured a player they can build a team around and one with his best years ahead of him. Palace fans will argue in favour of Cabaye’s experience and he is arguably at his peak. Experience, especially in the Premier League, is one thing that should count in favour of Cabaye, we have seen countless players take time to adjust to the Premier League but this should be no problem for Cabaye.
Both players can feature throughout midfield but are probably best deployed in the number ten role. In his time at Newcastle Cabaye proved adept at breaking up attacks, averaging 2.4 tackles and 2.4 interceptions per game the season before he moved to France. Whether this is something Wijnaldum will be able to replicate remains to be seen, in the World Cup we he was deployed in a deeper midfield role, so it is possible he could.
Athletically Wijnaldum has the advantage, he is a strong runner on the ball and a very good dribbler. Technically Cabaye probably just has the edge, his set piece delivery and general creativity have been sorely missed at Newcastle. Cabaye has an excellent passing range and is likely to be involved in building attacks and creating chances rather than finishing them off. Of his 17 goals at Newcastle 10 were from outside the box, that’s a stark contrast to all of Wijnaldum’s goals coming from inside the box.
For my money Cabaye’s capture is the better one, mainly because he has proven he can do it in the Premier League, and is one of the best signings of the transfer window so far. That’s not to say Wijnaldum is a poor acquisition, but a lot will depend on how he settles in England and whether or not Newcastle can add another striker and keep hold of their best players. Despite many similarities these are quite different players, both managers and sets of fans will be hoping they can add a creative force to take their side to the next level and there is certainly cause for hope in both cases.
Statistics courtesy of whoscored.com