Crystal Palace have signed central defender Joachim Andersen on a five-year deal from Lyon.
The 25-year-old spent the tail-end of last season, putting on courageous defensive displays in the Premier League for Fulham, before featuring on three occasions for Euro semi-finalists Denmark.
Known for his leadership abilities and his desire to work at nothing less than 100% for his team, Andersen becomes Patrick Vieira's fourth summer signing, materialising as the most notable acquisition yet.
He joins a transitioning defensive line that consists of newcomer Marc Guehi and age-old veteran James Tomkins. But with the evaluation of the squad coming to its peroration, it is expected that Gary Cahill and Nathaniel Clyne will pen new deals, emphasising the quality on display in the defensive room at Selhurst Park.
What's been said:
"I'm extremely proud to be joining Crystal Palace and to be playing in the world's best football league," Andersen told the club website.
"The management of the club and Patrick Vieira have given me very strong assurance that they know my qualities, they believe in me and want me to play an important role in the team.
"I have a very positive impression of Patrick from the conversations I have had with him, and I have heard nothing but great things about the manager, the club and its plans for the future."
And the striking optimism that the new figurehead in defence seemed to effortlessly outpour through words was something that was matched by chairman Steve Parish.
Parish said: "In Joachim, we have added another highly-rated defender to our squad, and as a player with Premier League and international experience, we are extremely pleased to welcome him to Crystal Palace."
Andersen's story so far
Andersen’s career began in his native Denmark, but he broke into professional football with Dutch side, F.C. Twente. Shortly after making his first-team debut, Andersen was named Under-19 Talent of the Year by the Danish Football Association.
The centre-back joined Serie A side Sampdoria after 50 games with Twente and played regularly under manager Marco Giampaolo. Andersen’s performances earned him a move to Lyon as a record transfer in summer 2019, and he went on to feature in the 19/20 Champions League – including as a substitute in the semi-final against Bayern Munich.
Andersen then tasted Premier League football with a season-long loan to Fulham in October 2020. He captained the Cottagers and was even nominated for Premier League Player of the Month in February 2021.
That same year, the 25-year-old featured regularly in Denmark’s Euro 2020 campaign, playing as a substitute in all three knock-out games. In doing so, Andersen collected his eighth international cap.
Why the move makes sense
Palace have now completed three pre-season games, and there is a pattern that has cropped up already. While Roy Hodgson wanted his defence to stick to their own, more traditional duties, often resulting in a structured performance, Vieira's ideology has instilled an enhanced sense of fluidity.
The full-backs for Palace are expected to join the midfield and attacking transitions, while the defenders in the middle look forecasted to become more assertive with the ball at their feet, something which wasn't a part of Hodgson's philosophy.
The signings of Marc Guehi and Joachim Andersen, along with the rising interest in Ozan Kabak, display Vieira's desire to bring more fluidity to Selhurst Park next season. These three defenders are all capable of being valuable assets to the new manager's possession-based masterplan - with Andersen completing the most passes for Fulham in the Premier League last season.
Furthermore, with Marc Guehi being a smaller, faster component in defence in comparison to his predecessors, it makes sense that the Eagles would choose to invest in a towering 6ft 4 defender who is able to latch onto the infamous hoofs of English football.
And to add to the excitement that is swirling around the once sleepy south London, Andersen's leadership traits make him the perfect signing for Palace, who are rapidly going through an exodus in the form of experienced players at the club.
His initiative to organise the defensive shape will provide the perfect counterbalance to the influx of youth around him. With all eyes on the return of the Premier League in less than 20 days, Palace's squad is starting to take real shape.