Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew believes Bakary Sako announced himself as a force to be reckoned with in the Premier League after netting the winner against Aston Villa.
Winger Sako, making his debut after leaving Wolves during the close-season, secured a 2-1 triumph for Palace in the 87th minute having twice been denied by Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan earlier in the contest at Selhurst Park.
Pardew confirmed that Sako was only named in the starting XI after Yannick Bolasie was granted compassionate leave due to the death of his father and went on to dedicate the victory to him.
“I think there were maybe a couple of foreign clubs interested and a couple of Premier League clubs,” said Pardew, discussing his pursuit of Sako.
“His credentials, when you look at it, it seems a bit strange that there wasn’t more [clubs] involved.
“He was player of the year at Wolves, the goals he’s scored, the way he plays – and he’s announced himself in no uncertain manner.
“Ironically he wasn’t going to start because Yala [Bolasie] would have started for sure. Yala was in a great place and, bless his heart, he get this terrible news about his father, so that win was for him and his family. I hope it gives him a lift.”
Pardew also praised the contribution of Dwight Gayle and Jordon Mutch, who were introduced as half-time substitutes with the game still goalless.
Scott Dann opened the scoring for the hosts after 71 minutes before Pape Souare put Adama Traore’s pull-back through his own goal to bring Tim Sherwood’s Villa level.
“It was a bit of a tactical battle because Tim and his team came here and disrupted us,” Pardew said.
“We needed to make changes at half-time because we weren’t exploiting the space that was on offer.
“Dwight and Jordan did that for us. I thought we were much better in the second half.”