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Things to know about the Crystal Palace striker


Crystal Palace has been lucky in recent years when it comes to center forwards.

It’s almost as if the second their shiny, big-money new leader walked through the gate of Selhurst Park, he completely forgot where the back of the net is. And even more frustrating in the case of Alexander Sorloth, as soon as he leaves he can’t stop scoring and is linked with Real Madrid.

While Christian Benteke, Jordan Ayew and Michy Batshuayi have collected just four Premier League goals this season, Roy Hodgson has been leaning into the transfer market, with the arrival of France Under-21 international Jean -Philippe Mateta at the club.

The 23-year-old has signed an initial 18-month loan, with the Eagles forced to make the move permanent for £ 13.4million once he makes 15 Premier League debuts.

So who is this new hotshot forward? Here’s everything you need to know about French.

Jean-Philippe Mateta, Florian Muller
Mateta moved to Palace on loan | Matthias Hangst / Getty Images

Okay, so his dad didn’t play for Crystal Palace, but he was a soccer player.

Mateta’s father left his family at 22 to continue his football career, moving to Liège in Belgium. He would continue to represent Congo internationally, however, multiple injuries have seriously hampered his development.

He was forced to undergo numerous thigh operations which eventually started to take their toll, and at just 24 he was forced to retire.

Romelu Lukaku
Mateta has been compared to Romelu Lukaku when he was younger | Alessandro Sabattini / Getty Images

It’s not enough on the same level as being called “the next Messi”, but that’s still praise.

Mateta joined several French academies as a youngster, before Ligue 1 giants Lyon discovered his obvious potential and caught up with him at the age of 19.

The Frenchman’s imposing frame, careful play and scoring talent have compared him to Inter frontman Romelu Lukaku, and it’s easy to see why when you watch him play.

Jean-Philippe Mateta, Alexander Hack
Mateta had a good goals-per-game ratio with Mainz | Matthias Hangst / Getty Images

Well that bodes well for all Palace fans.

Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting the Eagles are a wrong team, but they’re certainly not going to disrupt the top four anytime soon, and Mateta’s record for Mainz this season is brilliant given their poverty.

Despite the only goal difference separating them from the bottom of the table – a position currently held by Schalke, a team that recently recorded their first league win in almost a year – the Frenchman has scored better than a goal at all. the other matches in all competitions this campaign.

Mateta leaves Mainz as the top scorer by distance, with ten goals in 17 games in all competitions this season, including seven in 15 Bundesliga appearances.

Most good forwards have a team they love to play against, and Mateta is no different.

The Frenchman recorded the first hat-trick of his career last season, hitting three against Freiburg, only to repeat the feat this season – in just 38 minutes!

He landed a hat-trick in the first half against Christian Streich’s side, with his hitting trio displaying some of his best attributes including instinct, conscience and composure.

Cagliari Calcio v AC Milan - Serie A
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is Mateta’s idol | Emanuele Perrone / Getty Images

Mateta is quick to name his idol, with the Frenchman openly discussing his desire to emulate the scoring exploits of a certain Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

And it’s easy to see why he idolizes the enigmatic Swede (aside from the fact that Ibrahimovic is really good at football and scores loads of goals, obviously).

At 6ft 4in, the new Crystal Palace boy is the same height as the Milan leader, and the soaring and daring he showed during his time in Mainz isn’t too different from a young Ibrahimovic.

* Disclaimer – we are NOT suggesting that he will score as much as Zlatan, so do not start the witch hunt when he scores three in the next 18 months *.