Crystal Palace have signed striker Freddie Ladapo from Margate FC on a two-and-a-half-year deal for an undisclosed fee.
The 23-year-old enjoyed a brief trial period with the Eagles' development side this month, which included a hat-trick in a 5-0 victory over Watford. The former Colchester United youngster then hit the post with a stunning effort the following week against Leeds United, but could not cap his display with a goal.
Following his release from Colchester, Ladapo signed for National League side Kidderminster Harriers, where he then enjoyed loaned spells at Hayes and Yeading as well as Grays Athletic. He then completed a permanent move to Margate in January 2015, where his impressive form in-front of goal in an under-performing side caught the attention of the Premier League side.
Non-league talent market is taken seriously by Palace
Palace have a strong history of signing players from non-league and it is now a market that many top clubs scout more often following the recent success of players such as Leicester forward Jamie Vardy, Southampton's Charlie Austin and Manchester United centre-back Chris Smalling.
Former Eagles striker Ian Wright was signed by Palace from Greenwich Borough and went on to become a well-recognised England international, while current Eagles forward Keshi Anderson was signed from Barton Rovers.
Ladapo expected to play for under-21s and impress Pardew
It is highly unlikely that Ladapo will go straight into Alan Pardew's first-team squad given the current predicament the Eagles find themselves in, but he will have the chance to impress in Gary Issott's under-21 side for the remainder of the season. He will then be able to pitch his talents to Pardew in pre-season as the Palace boss plans ahead for the forthcoming 2016/17 campaign.
Similarly to many of the current under-21 talents at Palace, Ladapo could find himself out on loan in the Football League next season if Pardew deems him to be not ready for first-team football at Palace. Anderson, Sullay Kaikai and Hiram Boateng have already benefitted from non-permanent spells away from the club in recent months and Ladapo could be next in line to prove his worth while out on-loan.