By 90Min
July 05, 2018

It was the signing that made a real statement for Crystal Palace. The arrival of Yohan Cabaye for a then club-record fee of £10m from Paris Saint-Germain made many who thought of the Eagles as perennial relegation battlers, punching way above their weight merely by being in the Premier League, as a side serious about competing. 

Just five years on from being plunged into administration, on the brink of liquidation, this seemed a far cry from the days of having to use right back Danny Butterfield as a striker. A far cry from the days of struggling to pay for the use of the floodlights at Selhurst Park. 

If you were to have told anyone associated with the club back then that, in just five years time, they'd be signing an accomplished international midfielder with Champions League pedigree on £100k-per-week, they'd look at you as if you'd just squatted down and excreted in front of them.

This transfer was clouded in surrealism for everybody associated with the south London club. They had managed to lure a player of top quality, selling the club's vision so effectively to him that he had actually swapped the luxuries of the Parc des Princes to playing for a side with a Sainsbury's built into their stadium. 

His three seasons at Selhurst Park, in my opinion, were taken for granted by some fans of the Eagles. Cabaye arrived with many envisaging the player who caught the eye of PSG with his stunning dead-ball ability and his eye for a long shot whilst on Tyneside, which was naive on their part. 

In truth, what Palace were getting was a 29-year-old who was more of a dictator of the tempo in matches, a player who possessed an exceptional ability to read the game, nick the ball and lay it off to players capable of driving at the opposition. 

For the season coming up, and perhaps the season that follows, the Selhurst Park faithful will realise just how important Cabaye was in the Eagles' midfield. Even in his last season in SE25, some were still pining for the number seven to smash one in from 30 yards or curl a freekick in off the crossbar. 

He wasn't fully appreciated, because so many expected something else from the Frenchman. 

Putting aside the preconceived naivety, let's appreciate the service that the former Lille man put in over the course of his three year stint in south London. Other clubs quickly became aware that Cabaye was our key man, the one who made us tick, and consequently set about kicking bits out of him. 

Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

The Eagles' record signing racked up countless injuries whilst playing under all of Alan Pardew, Sam Allardyce, Frank de Boer and Roy Hodgson in his three years at Palace. Such was the minimal strength in depth within the squad, however, that Cabaye simply had to pull through. 

Palace continued to chuck him out there, injected with all sorts of painkillers, and whilst it reaped the desired rewards for the club as they continued to maintain their Premier League status, it took its toll on the Frenchman's body. 

Near the end of his spell in red and blue, Cabaye could barely see out games, lasting around 70 minutes before his influence on the match waned. Perhaps that is why he has chosen to move to Al-Nasr, to see out his playing days in a league that demands a lot less physically and mentally. 

You may be quick to point out that he will, of course, be paid a lot of money to play out there. But Cabaye was earning £100k-per-week at Palace. He had offers to earn the same amount back home in France, notably with Marseille. If he has decided to metaphorically put his feet up in the sun whilst playing football in recreational fashion, then fair play to him. 

He has earned it for knackering out his body for Crystal Palace to preserve the club's Premier League status, and he will always be welcomed back to SE25 with open arms for his committed performances even at the worst of times. 

Merci Yohan, bonne chance. 

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