New signing Bakary Sako comes with a glowning reputation from Wolverhampton Wanderers. Rich, from Wolves Fancast gives us the breakdown.
Bakary Sako is more entertainer than footballer when he is on the pitch. He’s probably the most skilful player I have seen in a Wolves shirt, and alongside the likes of Bolasie and Zaha, Crystal Palace will have a handful of very tricky wingers. When he finds his shooting radar, Sako is a great asset to have in any team.
To reach double figures in goals for each season at Wolves is no mean feat, especially when you consider we were relegated in his first season in England. When he strikes a ball, it definitely stays hit. However, for every goal rifled in, there are five shots that have gone high, wide and handsome.
The thing I like most about Sako, apart from his war-hammer of a left foot, is that he doesn't react to opponents. Like all talented players, he’s subject to a fair amount of harsh treatment from opposition fullbacks. But in his three seasons at Wolves, I don’t think I ever saw him properly react to being chopped down. He also isn’t someone to go down easily, and with his strength and power, he’s hard to outmuscle – it takes a lot to draw a foul out of him.
There have been times when his loyalty has been questioned. When we were relegated to League 1, he sat out of some games amid interested from the likes of Fulham. But to Sako’s credit, he never forced a move nor kicked up a fuss in the press about having to play in the third tier. Even last season, when bids were made for the Malian, he didn't hand in a transfer request and played out the last six months of his contact in the same way he played the first six month.
Despite getting over ten goals in each of the last three seasons – giving the Molineux faithful plenty to cheer about in the process – he still split opinion among Wolves fans. His showboating can get the better of him sometimes, as it does with many wingers. As can be the case with many wide players, the defensive side of his game can be lacking, too – yet, when called upon, he has been excellent when Wolves have had their backs to the wall.
As an outlet, his control and skill relieved the pressure on the defence. Sako did get a lot of love and adoration from the Wolves fans, and he seemed to have a great affinity with the club. He shaved the club badge on his head and cried doing a lap of honour after his final appearance.
Sako is a player who needs to be loved, and to be the centre of attention –with more competition for places down Selhurst Park, it will be interesting to see if he’s still as happy-go-lucky. Though he is without Premier League experience, I think you’d struggle to find a better player in English football without any. Once he is up to match fitness, with a run of games, I’m sure he can be a success in the top flight with Crystal Palace.