Saturday, June 25, 2022

Crystal Palace transfer window: Greater depth and a Gallagher replacement are key

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Daniel Storey examines areas of need, potential signings and those who could be sold as part of The Score’s transfer window preview for all 20 Premier League clubs

Another right-back is a must as Martin Kelly’s departure has been confirmed despite Nathaniel Clyne being handed an extension. A return for Aaron Wan-Bissaka would make sense if the deal with Manchester United goes right, although Palace may have to wait until Erik ten Hag has kept an eye on him in pre-season training.

Read Daniel Storey’s transfer window previews for all 20 Premier League clubs here

That being said, there are unlikely to be any major changes to Patrick Vieira’s squad; more a case of quality and competition for places in the backbone of the team. Vincent Guiata is now 35 so it makes sense to bring in a potential replacement – Sam Johnstone has been mentioned.

In central defence, Marc Guehi and Joachim Andersen started 32 games together last season and will be the first choice next season; Vieira will be looking for a younger defender who can develop and be her backup. Further up, Luka Milivojevic and Chiekhou Kouyate largely share the workload in defensive midfield and Palace may be looking to upgrade – Lens’ Cheick Doucoure has been widely rumored to be the answer.

Conor Gallagher’s success last season creates a problem as a second loan or permanent move from Chelsea is unlikely. Vieira must try to replace that dynamic in midfield; so often it was Gallagher’s threat that gave space to Michael Olise, Eberechi Eze and Wilfried Zaha. Lewis O’Brien is keen to leave Huddersfield and Palace have recruited superbly from the Championship.

Eventually, Vieira will have to decide whether to continue trusting the forwards who joined the club permanently last season or seek another upgrade. Odsonne Edouard and Jean-Philippe Mateta combined to score 11 goals in 50 league games last season, but only four of those came after the New Year.

The string of players with expiring contracts has been worked through, with Palace preferring to offer year-long extensions rather than seek replacements. James Tomkins, James McArthur, Jordan Ayew and Clyne all had new contracts which were announced on June 8th. Martin Kelly’s departure has been confirmed leaving Jeffrey Schlupp and Kouyate the only two yet to be worked out – Palace say they are working on a new deal for Kouyate.

In an ideal world, none of these players will play more than 15 league games next season. But Vieira is understandably keen on not throwing the baby out with the bathwater and all four are dependable, hard-working squad players.

More importantly, Palace don’t have to sell any of their jewels this summer. After getting rid of unhelpful high earners before the start of last season and having had a transfer win for the previous three years, it would take huge offers for Palace to back the sale of Guehi, Tyrick Mitchell, Eze or Olise. Zaha’s chance for a second big career step may be over as he nears 30.

The only position Vieira wants to sell is when he buys a forward. Playing a 4-3-3 with a center forward means you don’t need Edouard, Mateta, Christian Benteke and another new signing. They suspect Vieira would be content to deduct Benteke’s salary from the payroll.

“It’s about, as a manager, as a coach with the staff, maintaining the level of quality of the players. And of course with the way we work and expect them to improve. Trying to bring those few players that will help us grow stronger as a team.

“I think it’s always important to have the right balance between young players and experience, how many players are coming and how many are going. These players give a lot to this football club and that’s why this window will be hugely important for us and the fewer mistakes we make the better it will be” – Patrick Vieira, May 22nd

One: none

Out: Martin Kelly (released)

The Score is Daniel Storey’s weekly assessment of the performance of all 20 Premier League teams. Sign up here to receive the newsletter every Monday morning next season

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