Bakary Sako joins Crystal Palace ahead of opening-day clash with Norwich City
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Crystal Palace have completed the signing of former Wolves forward Bakary Sako on a free transfer ahead of their opening-day clash with Norwich City on Saturday.
Sako has joined the Barclays Premier League side on a three-year deal following the expiration earlier this summer of his contract with Wolves, who he had been with since 2012.
It remains to be seen whether the French-born Mali international will feature at Carrow Road however, due to a lack of a proper pre-season campaign with a club.
Sako scored 36 goals in 118 league appearances for the Midlands outfit, and was named in the PFA League One Team of the Year when he helped Wolves win the division in 2013/14.
He subsequently made the Championship end-of-season line-up last term after notching 15 goals en route to Kenny Jackett's men finishing just outside the play-offs.
Regarding his new employers, 27-year-old Sako said on cpfc.co.uk: 'I talked to some clubs but when I met Alan (Pardew, the Palace manager) I felt a good feeling between him and me and that's why I chose Palace.
'He plays attacking, attractive football so it should be good to play here and score some goals, that's why I came to join him.
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'I've been doing my own pre-season training because Wolves gave me a programme before I left, and my cousin has a small academy so we trained together to keep my fitness levels up.
'I think I'm fit now but it's in the manager's hands to pick me so we'll see how my fitness is.
'I want to play lots of games, score some goals and get some assists and enjoy myself. I'm confident about stepping up to the Premier League so we'll see how it goes.'
Prior to arriving in English football with Wolves, Sako played in France, firstly for Chateauroux and then St Etienne. He has scored six goals in 14 caps for Mali.
One man who does look set to feature against the Canaries though is big-money summer signing Yohan Cabaye.
The France international midfielder was taken off at half-time of a pre-season friendly against Fulham on Saturday because of a dead leg and Palace boss Pardew had said Cabaye could be a doubt for the opening day of the season.
Local media in the south of London are now reporting that the 29-year-old has returned to training and is in contention to start the match however.
That would come as a major boost to the Eagles ahead of the game as Cabaye was signed for £13million from French giants Paris Saint-Germain this summer, linking up with his former Newcastle manager Pardew, who is predicting big things from his new signing.
'Fans up and down the country know that Cabaye could get in any top-four team,' Pardew told Sky Sports. 'He could play for Arsenal or Manchester United, no trouble. So to have him at our place is a real coup. We're absolutely delighted to have him.'
The 54-year-old said Cabaye will offer something different as Palace attempt to better last season's 10th-place finish.
'There were times last year when teams started to find out what we were about,' he added. 'They wouldn't let us utilise the pace and power. They blocked it up on the flanks so therefore you have to come through the middle. With Yohan Cabaye we can do that now.'