Crystal Palace opinion: The Eagles should go all out to sign Hiroki Sakai
Sakai, 29, won Marseille’s Player of the Year award, as voted for by fans, impressing with his determined and consistent performances for the Ligue 1 side. The Japanese has been on the books of Marseille since joining from Bundesliga side Hannover 96 in 2016, but is now wanted in England.
Keeping his form over the last couple of seasons in mind, Crystal Palace must go all out to sign Sakai.
The Eagles will be looking to improve next season after finishing 12th in the table.
Roy Hodgson must address the key areas of his squad over the summer, which in turn would help the South Londoners in achieving their 2019/20 campaign’s aims and objectives. However, one of Hodgson’s most important tasks will be to keep hold of his star players.
It looks like Palace could lose a couple of their standout performers this summer, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka hotly linked with Manchester United.
The 21-year-old, who is set to return from the Under-21 European Championship this week after England’s early exit, is wanted by the Red Devils as he is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s top target.
There is no breakthrough in talks over Wan-Bissaka for United but it appears to be a matter of not if, but when. Losing the England Under-21 international would be a big blow for the Eagles but Hodgson could do a good job by getting Hiroki Sakai from Marseille.
Sakai is a versatile customer, capable of playing anywhere across the back line, featuring at right-back, left-back and at centre-back for his clubs and his country throughout his career.
He is technically sound, physically strong, aerially good and has excellent energy levels that help him run for the 90 minutes without getting tired.
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The 29-year-old has been a reliable and dependable full-back for Marseille and he boasts a lot of experience, having played in two World Cups and appeared 56 times for Japan so far.
His technical skills, energy and work-rate coupled with his doggedness and rich experience would make him such a handy player to have for Palace.
Marseille value Sakai around £12m and in today’s age and market, the 29-year-old versatile defender would represent a valuable signing for Hodgson and the Eagles.