They call it the silly season, maybe because of stories just like this.
Today, Edgar Davids, the former Ajax, Barcelona, Juventus, Milan, Internazionale and (cough) Tottenham player, a Champions League-winner who also accumulated 74 caps in an 11-year international career for Holland, has signed for Crystal Palace. [This paragraph has now been formally filed under “Things you never believed you would write”]
On the same day that Palace was formally removed from being in administration, the club announced on its website that a pay-as-you-play deal had been done with the 37-year-old at the training ground this morning.
Davids has been training with Ajax recently, though he has not played a match for two years.
The report said that Davids – seen “in action” most recently by British football fans as a TV pundit during the World Cup – had trained with his new team mates this morning, “and will be at Selhurst Park on Saturday afternoon for the match against Ipswich Town”.
That reads to us as if he will be introduced to the fans tomorrow, but may not be called upon to play immediately.
“It is an exciting time for the football club, and it is an exciting time for me,” Davids told the club website. “I just want to enjoy football and show the best I can do.”
Given that the club has just dug itself out of one financial mire, Inside Croydon remains a little sceptical about this move, which smacks of a publicity stunt rather than being done for genuine footballing reasons.
There’s good reason why Davids has not played for two years. In 2007, he broke his leg in pre-season, just the latest in a series of injuries that had blighted the final four years of his active playing career: in two years at Spurs, he played just 40 times (there was even a spell when he went “on strike” and didn’t turn up for training); then in two years in his second spell with Ajax, he played only 30 times.
That’s not a lot of football in the past six years for the man Marcello Lippi once described as “the one-man engine room” of his Juve side (which may not be so surprising when you recall that Davids tested positive for banned anabolic steroid, nandrolone, the same drug that Linford Christie was caught using at the end of his sprinting career).
Since his Ajax contract ended in 2008, David’s has been without a club altogether. A flirtation with Leicester last year broke down; maybe he visited the place.
Admittedly, as a holding midfielder playing in the Championship, Davids probably won’t be expected to do too much legwork, leaving that to his younger Palace team mates. Certainly, even at 35, Davids skill and experience was instrumental in Ajax winning the Dutch league.
It may also be that Davids will add something to the Palace training sessions, and George Burley’s younger players will learn something from the Dutch master.
Burley says that after discussions with Davids, he is convinced that the player is not making a comeback just for the money. “He has been out of the game for a long time, but he is a class player,” Burley said.
“He has kept himself in decent shape and I certainly wouldn’t pick him if I didn’t think he was fit enough.”
Burley also said that financially, the deal “it’s a bit of a no-lose situation” for the club. The top and bottom of it for Palace, though, will in the end be financial: will Davids bring in enough additional punters, curious to see a footballing legend, through the turnstiles at Selhurst Park?
- Busy day for Palace, who have also made two loan signings: 31-year-old Ipswich striker Pablo Counago (who won’t be allowed to play tomorrow) and Tottenham Hotspur striker Jonathan Obika (who is just 19, and joins on a season-long deal).