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Chadi Riad relishing Erling Haaland challenge after completing £14m Crystal Palace move from Barcelona

Palace's £14m signing makes Haaland claim after leaving Barca
© Imago
Chadi Riad is relishing the opportunity to face the Premier League's most formidable opponents, including Manchester City's Erling Haaland, after becoming Crystal Palace's first signing of the summer transfer window.

Chadi Riad is relishing the opportunity to face the Premier League's most formidable opponents after becoming Crystal Palace's first signing of the summer transfer window.

The 20-year-old defender has put pen to paper on a five-year contract until June 2029 and joins the Eagles from La Liga giants Barcelona in a deal believed to be worth an initial £12m plus £2m in add-ons.

Riad made just one senior appearance during his time at Barca, but he established himself as a first-team regular on loan at Real Betis last season, starting 26 La Liga games for a side that secured a seventh-placed finish in the Spanish top flight.

Palace moved quickly to secure the services of the Morocco international, who has been described by chairman Steve Parish as "an exciting young player" who "adds quality to a squad already packed with talent and potential".

Commenting on his arrival at Selhurst Park, Riad told the club's official website: "I'm really happy to join Crystal Palace. I was interested in coming here because of the history of the club, and the league in which it plays.

"They have been telling me how they played this year and I think it complements perfectly the way I play. The club has high-level players who are young and I have come here to follow their same trajectory, to grow as they have grown."

Riad to fulfil Premier League dream at Palace

Riad added: "[It is also] because of the fans - especially because of the interest they showed in me from the beginning. They made me feel at home and that's why I am here.

"I have dreamt of playing in the Premier League since I was a kid. As you can see, it's the best league in the world with excellent players, and I'm really looking forward to playing [here]."

Riad hopes that he can make an immediate impression under manager Oliver Glasner and force his way into a Palace side that secured a 10th-placed finish in the Premier League after winning six of their final seven games of the season.

"Before coming here I have spoken to the coach and the truth is that he has given me a lot of confidence, a lot of calmness and confidence to come here," said Riad. "We have spoken about the game plans and, as I've said before, I think it fits perfectly.

"I'm really looking forward to it. [Palace] have an excellent fan base, the pitch looks welcoming and I'm really looking forward to playing [at Selhurst Park].

"My personal goals are to grow as a footballer, to learn from new experiences, to learn from the experienced players, to learn from everyone and to simply improve myself as a footballer and grow both on a personal and footballing level."

The youngster has revealed which defenders he idolises and has also given the Palace supporters an insight into what they can expect from him at Selhurst Park.

"I would describe myself as a calm footballer, but with grit," said Riad. "I would describe myself as an aggressive footballer who knows how to think, who doesn't get carried away by the tension of the moment, and who is intelligent. I think I can fit in perfectly in Crystal Palace.

"When I was a kid, although I haven't seen [Paolo] Maldini play, I did admire him a lot. [Raphael] Varane as well. Those are two players who really caught my eye."

Riad ready for Haaland battle

Riad has acknowledged that he is ready to make the step up and grow as a player at Palace, with the defender eyeing battles with the Premier League's best forwards including Manchester City's Erling Haaland.

Many defenders would understandably be daunted by the prospect of facing two-time Premier League Golden Boot winner Haaland, who has netted 63 top-flight goals across his first two seasons at Man City, but Riad is relishing the chance to face the Norwegian among others.

Manchester City's Erling Haaland celebrates scoring their second goal on May 4, 2024© Reuters

"Honestly, in a league like the Premier League, all the forwards are top-notch," Riad explained. "There are players like Erling Haaland, forwards from these big teams, that I really want to play against.

"The truth is that the Crystal Palace squad has top-notch players who are young, and honestly, I have come here to follow in their footsteps and to grow as they have grown.

"It's true that I have spoken to my (Real Betis) teammates like Pablo Fornals, who played in the Premier League with Marc Roca. They have told me that I'm going to enjoy this league and I hope [I will]."

Riad is looking forward to linking up with his new Palace teammates ahead of the club's pre-season tour of the USA at the end of July.

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