Morocco might have been the most unfortunate team in this summer’s World Cup.
The North Africans went home bottom of their group with only one point from three games, conceding a last-minute own goal to Iran, outplaying Portugal but losing to a Cristiano Ronaldo header and being denied a famous win by a controversial, VAR-aided stoppage-time goal against Spain.
In all three games, Younes Belhanda stood out. Intelligent and crafty with the ball at his feet, the gifted midfielder offered a few tantalising glimpses of the form that led Galatasaray to the Super Lig title last season. In 28 starts in the Turkish top flight, Belhanda produced an impressive eight assists.
No wonder Crystal Palace are keen. Roy Hodgson’s side were so obviously over reliant on Wilfried Zaha last season so seem to be on the lookout for players who could offer creativity in other areas.
Sabah have claimed that Belhanda is available for as little as £9 million after Palace saw a bid of £5.3 million rejected recently. And the former Schalke and Dinamo Kiev player, who was central to Montpellier’s remarkable 2012 Ligue 1 title triumph, would be a real bargain in today’s market.
If Palace signed him, Hodgson could line up a whole new midfield three with Belhanda at the tip ahead of Cheikhou Kouyate and Max Meyer.