Which positions are Crystal Palace targeting in the summer transfer window? What has Patrick Vieira said? And what do the stats say?
Which positions are Crystal Palace targeting?
Sky Sports News reporter Michael Bridge:
Let’s rewind a year. Crystal Palace decided to go in another direction after Roy Hodgson and eventually appointed Patrick Vieira. The club lost a number of senior players after their contracts expired. They found themselves with under 12 senior players and the bookmakers’ favorites for relegation.
Fast forward to May 2022 and Palace can be more than satisfied with a mid-table finish under the impressive Patrick Vieira after a summer of excellent recruitment. The highlights being Marc Guehi and the loan of Conor Gallagher – both players now England squad regulars.
But, in the Premier League, if you stand still you go backwards and Steve Parish, Dougie Freedman and Vieira are more than aware of this. Martin Kelly is the latest senior player to leave the club. Other senior players such as Kouyate and Milivojevic have not committed their futures and despite Palace being keen to keep Gallagher, it’s widely expected he’s in Thomas Tuchel’s plans at Chelsea.
Vieira is keen to add a new right-back, a dominant central midfielder and a striker to his squad ahead of the new season. Wholesale changes aren’t required this summer but the message is any new signings must be a considerable improvement on what they’ve already got.
Palace are aware former right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka is no longer wanted at Manchester United and will monitor his movement in the summer. The club have also watched Lens midfielder Cheick Doucoure throughout the season. Doucoure fits the profile for the midfielder the club are targeting.
Watford winger Ismaila Sarr is expected to leave Vicarage Road and has admirers inside Selhurst. I also expect Palace to try and add a striker. They already have Mateta, Edouard and Benteke but none of the three have been able to nail down that first-choice role and one could depart in the summer.
On top of this, they will continue to shop in the EFL market. It’s been very fruitful for them after the Ebe Eze and Michael Olise purchases. Palace also signed Luke Plange from Derby last January and he will be monitored in pre-season to see if he’s ready for a jump into the Premier League.
What do the stats say about Crystal Palace?
Patrick Vieira’s side would be looking to add a threat from set-pieces at both ends of the pitch.
Only Leicester City (34 per cent) conceded a higher proportion of goals from set-pieces than Crystal Palace (33 per cent) and they ranked 15th for percentage of goals scored from set-pieces as well.
Furthermore, the Eagles scored a league-low two goals from corners and only three teams conceded more goals from corners.
When looking at each club’s leading player for aerial duels won per 90 minutes, the results reveal Palace are rock-bottom for winning duels in the air.
In fact, there are four Brighton players, and three from Brentford, Burnley, Newcastle and Watford, before we arrive at the Eagles’ leading aerial winner, Joel Ward.
What has manager Patrick Vieira said?
Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira speaking on the final day of the season:
“It’s all about as a manager, as a coach with the staff, keep maintaining the level of quality of the players. And of course, with the way we work and expecting them to improve. To try to bring those couple of players that will help us to be stronger as a team.
“We have to keep challenging ourselves and we want to be ambitious. And then after, of course, we have to perform to allow ourselves to be in a good part of the table.
“I think it’s always important to have the right balance between young players and experience in how many players come in and how many are leaving.
“Those players give a lot to this football club and this is why this window will be massively important for us and the fewer mistakes we make, the better it will be.”
What should Crystal Palace do this summer?
Sky Sports’ Zinny Boswell:
Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace revolution has been a success in the first season of his reign. But he faces a summer of big decisions, as he looks to maintain the standards of this campaign while also raising the bar.
It will be a tough task with Conor Gallagher’s loan from Chelsea coming to an end. Palace face the prospect of identifying a midfielder who can bring the same energy, dynamism and quality as the Chelsea midfielder without blowing their budget – unless they can pull off a miracle and keep him for another season. The return to full fitness of Eberechi Eze after a season struggling with an Achilles injury will certainly soften the blow, but Vieira needs more midfield numbers.
Striker remains a problem area for Palace, with Jean-Philippe Mateta and Odsonne Edouard failing to consistently perform, and Christian Benteke’s future uncertain. With the forward players at Vieira’s disposal, a quality striker could propel Palace to new heights next season.
Nathaniel Clyne and Joel Ward – both out of contract at the end of June and yet to announce renewals – provide solid cover at right-back, but Vieira should be considering how he can improve his options in the summer. Aaron Wan-Bissaka is reportedly being considered with Manchester United willing to listen to offers for the defender, three years on from buying him for £ 50m from the Eagles.
Perhaps the most important part of Palace’s business this summer will be determining the future of Wilfried Zaha. Palace’s superstar winger has just one more year left on his deal and Vieira needs to establish whether or not he will be renewing his stay at Selhurst Park beyond next season. While losing Zaha would be disastrous for Palace, losing him on a free would be a mistake. Zaha’s 14 goals made him Palace’s top scorer this season, and they should do everything they can to keep him. At 29, Zaha may feel this is his final opportunity to secure a big move away, but Palace fans will be hoping he sticks with them.