Erdal Rakip isn’t a name you might be familiar with and for many people signing him on loan from Benfica might not be the most inspiring signing. You are probably correct but then again was the signing of Luka Milivojevic 12 months ago one that excited you?
Rakip is a 21-year-old player who signed for Benfica on a free transfer on January 19th from Swedish club Malmö, who won the Allsvenskan in November, three days before signing for Palace on loan.
Rakip has played 90 league games scoring 11 goals, 13 cup games scoring 1 goal and 17 European games without scoring. He has been capped for Sweden at U17, U19 and U21 levels.
Curb your enthusiasm
It is best to not expect too much from Rakip. I don’t write that to be negative, I write that so people don’t get on his back if he doesn’t set the world on fire within 5 games.
The fact is he finished playing for Malmö in November and has only been training with Benfica for 2 weeks so in effect he is in a mini pre-season.
The Swedish top flight is roughly on a par with the lower levels of the Championship. Malmö, who won the league title last season, are a team who are used to winning and have easily been the best team in Sweden for the past 2 seasons so how Rakip will adjust to playing in a team that is fighting relegation will be interesting to see.
Last season in Sweden, which ran from April to November, Rakip played in 27 of a possible 30 games and scored 8 goals.
While Rakip has Champions League experience remember that so has any player who has played for teams that have won the league in Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Luxembourg and, well, Sweden. That doesn’t equate to being a brilliant player.
At the end of the day Rakip, who turns 22 in February, would be in the Swedish senior team if he was a stand out player because God knows Sweden need some decent players right now!
Rakip has been playing at the senior level for 5 seasons. In 4 out of the 5 seasons, Malmö have won the league title yet he has not been called up to the senior squad.
Can you imagine an England player playing for Manchester City for 5 years and no get a call-up?
Dele Alli signed for Spurs from Milton Keynes Dons and got a call-up to the England senior squad within 5 months. Marcus Rashford broke into the Manchester United team and played for 5 months then was called up for the England senior squad.
It seems completely bizarre that Rakip has not yet been called up for the Sweden senior squad in the last year all things considered.
The big question
If Rakip had been on Palace’s radar for a while, or even if we’ve only known about him for a couple of months, why didn’t we try to sign him on a free transfer?
The whole thing smells a bit fishy. Benfica signs Rakip at the start of January and immediately loan him out to us. If they think he is ready for the Premier League why wouldn’t they keep him for their league campaign?
It doesn’t make a lot of sense but then, that’s Palace’s transfer policy in a nutshell!
My point isn’t to be down on this signing, it’s to keep our expectations in check.
They say that a player signing for a club on August 31st needs 6 weeks to adapt to a new club, tactics, players, surroundings, fitness levels and so on. Throw in that he needs to adapt to the English game and step up a level, I just wouldn’t want Palace fans expecting too much from the lad except to be a bench warmer to come on when needed.
That said, I don’t expect him to come on and change games.
It’s a strange signing all round. At a time when we are bereft of quality, this doesn’t do much to enhance that and I would be happier if he were one for the future. That he might be but not our future.