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Safely lodged in mid-table, Crystal Palace have had plenty of time to consider their summer recruitment ahead of the next transfer window.
The Eagles are a side moulded in the image of their veteran manager Roy Hodgson and will be on the lookout for additions that fit with his regimented approach after the 72-year-old coach agreed on a new one-year deal in March.
But the former England boss will have to juggle Premier League survival with a desire to bring down the age of an experienced squad – not an easy task on the limited resources Palace have to work with.
Reserve goalkeeper Stephen Henderson is the only senior player out of contract at Selhurst Park this summer and is expected to sign a new deal with the club.
It’s going to be a different story in June 2021 though, when a whole host of the current squad’s deals expire. Twelve players could leave South London, including Patrick van Aanholt, Christian Benteke and Andros Townsend.
As a result, the next transfer window is going to be about extracting maximum value from players that aren’t in the club’s long-term plans, before they are able to leave on a free transfer in a year’s time.
Max Meyer is the most likely departure. The German midfielder has struggled to fit into Hodgson’s system and will have been growing frustrated at his lack of minutes this season – just 593 in the current Premier League campaign and only two starts in 2020.
Palace may also be keen to cash in on Van Aanholt, who turns 30 in August. With one year remaining on his deal, now would seem like a wise time to sell before his value diminishes.
Connor Wickham (currently on loan at Sheffield Wednesday) will surely move on, while Cenk Tosun’s loan move from Everton is unlikely to be made permanent. Beyond that, the departure lounge at Selhurst Park is expected to be relatively quiet this summer.
The one great unknown is whether Wilfried Zaha will be part of the Eagles’ squad next season. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, it felt like a formality the Ivorian winger would get a chance to try his luck at one of the Premier League’s ‘big six’. Now there are serious doubts as to whether any interested parties will have the funds to meet Palace’s asking price.
Zaha’s best hope of a move could be to Newcastle United, who look likely to be awash with money when their Saudi Arabian takeover is completed. The Magpies have been linked with a £60million bid for the 27-year-old, as part of a £300million spending spree in the next window.
No other star players are expected to move on this summer, but there will be some concerns that Vicente Guaita’s stunning displays will have caught the eye of bigger clubs in the top flight. The Eagles’ goalkeeper is out of contract in 2021 but the club have an option to extend his deal. No one at Crystal Palace will want to see the former Getafe man leave anytime soon.
Key areas to strengthen
One of the main priorities for Palace will be to bring the age of their squad down – they've had the joint fewest under-21 players make an appearance in 2019/20, the second-fewest under-23 players and the highest average age in the Premier League (29.5).
Hodgson will also be on the hunt for a striker to solve his team’s goalscoring issues. Only two teams have scored fewer goals per 90 (0.83) this season and the Eagles are bottom of the expected goals (xG) rankings with 30.48 across the whole campaign.
With the second least shots per 90 (8.58), it’s clear Palace need to add a player who can pull the trigger and boost their output inside the box. They may have the league’s fifth-best defence (only conceding 1.02 times per 90) but will have to improve in attack if the club have any ambitions of a push for Europa League football.
A left-back is also on Palace’s wanted-list, while there will be a concerted effort to bulk up a lightweight squad with more depth across the board over the coming months.
West Bromwich Albion defender Nathan Ferguson looks a certainty to fill the aforementioned left-back slot – the 19-year-old was on the verge of completing a move to South London in January and it would be a major surprise if a deal for the prodigious youngster wasn’t wrapped up this summer.
Ryan Fraser is another player reportedly on Hodgson’s radar. The winger’s Bournemouth contract expires in June, so he would represent a budget-friendly way of strengthening the Eagles’ options out wide for next season. It would certainly be something of a coup if they were able to beat Tottenham Hotspur to his signature.
Burnley duo James Tarkowski and Dwight McNeil have also been linked with Palace in recent days, but would surely both be out of the club’s price range unless they are able to sell Zaha for a sizeable fee.
Forgotten Liverpool full-back Nathaniel Clyne could be keen to make a fresh start at the club where he began his career, while Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi may be in line for a return to Selhurst Park after a fruitful six-goal loan spell in South London last season.