Roy Hodgson did not learn about Crystal Palace securing the signing of Michy Batshuayi until Friday morning — and the striker will not even arrive at the club until late on Friday afternoon.
Palace loaned the Belgian, 25, from Chelsea just before the conclusion of the transfer window on Thursday at 11 pm, having previously tried and failed to buy him on a permanent basis in 2016 and then when making more recent enquiries.
He is in contention to make his debut on Saturday at home to Fulham in the Premier League but was only considered an option for Hodgson against his former club from Friday morning when he finally learned that their long-term target was on his way.
“I went to bed not knowing, but it was a pleasant surprise to wake up to Doug’s (Freedman, the sporting director’s) text that it had been done, and my son’s messages via WhatsApp, in America, saying how pleased he was.
“I knew at about 8.30pm (on Thursday) that a deal could be on and had been agreed with Chelsea, and that he was on his way to finalise that. I don’t know the ins and outs, but I knew it was a distinct possibility and one that we wanted to pursue.
“Doug kept me informed up to 11pm. I knew about as much as everyone else because it was that close. It was that dramatic; our form and application was one of the last ones in, maybe the very last.
“Then it was about international clearance, after the 11pm deadline, so I didn’t find out until late on, after a tiring night on Thursday.
“We have always liked what we have seen and I spoke to people I trust and got very good references. He is a player who could be a missing piece in our jigsaw puzzle.
“(Our offer in 2016) was maybe topped by Chelsea, or perhaps he chose Chelsea. We have to accept that. It is good for him to know that the interest in him goes back a long way.
“It will give the players a boost and more importantly our fans a boost, to have a player with a proven goalscoring record.”
The 71-year-old Hodgson will delay leaving the club’s training ground to meet Batshuayi for the first time, and while Wilfried Zaha is suspended against Fulham and Cheikhou Kouyate is ruled out with an ankle injury, he is confident James Tomkins will have recovered from a knock.
“We have seen Wilf react (for his red card on Wednesday at Southampton), but he wears his heart on his sleeve and he has a strong sense of justice and injustice,” the Palace manager said. “But he has to learn from this and to control his emotions.
“I hope he won’t get an extension to the ban (he faces a charge of improper conduct). We can only hope that the people who make those decisions will empathise with the player. His record in those terms has been pretty reasonable.
“He was sent off something like seven years ago. He is not a perennial bad boy. I would like to think people would take what happened into consideration, with provocation (from James Ward-Prowse).”
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