When Crystal Palace were in need of striking options in early 2021, they turned to Mainz. The German club were looking for a stable solution for striker Jean-Philippe Mateta. The former Lyon man had enjoyed a successful, if inconsistent, time in the German top-flight. However, an 18-month loan deal was agreed with the Eagles, with Palace able to buy the striker outright for a fee of around £13m.
However, Mateta arrived under Roy Hodgson. Despite not getting much game time, there were numerous reports the player was committed in training and looking good. Precious few opportunities came along, though, leaving some fans frustrated at the sheer lack of progress. With Patrick Vieira arriving in the summer, Eagles fans were keen to see if the new coach could get more out of his compatriot.
So far, though, the 24-year-old is arguably further down the pecking order than he ever has been before. That is a major issue, and goes to show why Palace are probably going to be at loggerheads with Mainz over the future of the player. A £2.5m fee was paid to loan the player, along with the future option. Now, Mainz might be wondering what is happening to the value of a player they once rated very highly.
The move will be triggered if Mateta makes 15 appearances, according to reports in Germany. With Christian Benteke and new Odsonne Edouard ahead of Mateta, though, that looks highly unlikely. This means that Mateta has not even made the bench in the last two games – a damning indictment of where the player sits in the pecking order.
As such, Palace might find themselves in a contentious dispute with the German outfit over what happens next. As it stands, Mateta is seeing his value decrease by the weekend.
What has been said about Jean-Philippe Mateta?
Mainz are keen to try and find some kind of solution, but Christian Heidel was keen to make clear that things would be observed closely. Speaking to sport1, Heidel said: “[It’s] not an issue yet, but only at the end of the current season,
“It was very clear to us and to him that he would have strong competition at Crystal Palace. He is a young player. He consciously chose the step, we agreed to this request.
“If things don’t improve at all by winter then we may need to talk to Crystal Palace about whether there are other options.”
For now, though, this could become a challenging time for the club. Despite making a fast start to life in South London – scoring against eternal rivals Brighton not long after arriving – few appearances have come along since. Indeed, Mateta burnt some early bridges by saying that he was using the team as a stepping stone to find “the club where I will stay for ten years” – making it clear that he did not see himself settling down in South London.
As it stands, the option might be taken out of his hands – he is barely seeing gametime on the pitch.