Crystal Palace’s next steps under Patrick Vieira including Gallagher and Zaha dilemmas


Patrick Vieira enjoyed an impressive first campaign in charge of Crystal Palace, but there’s plenty of work to be done this summer if the Eagles are to kick on next season.

The Arsenal legend may not have been first choice in South London 12 months ago, but he’s more than endeared himself to the Palace faithful since taking up his first Premier League managerial post. The Frenchman oversaw a squad overhaul following his appointment last July before taking a gamble by deciding to do away with the cautious approach instilled at the club under predecessor Roy Hodgson, ditching it in favor of a more attractive brand of attacking, possession-based football.

Vieira promptly dispelled any doubts over whether the Eagles could make such a transition as the side from SE25 sealed a 12th-placed Premier League finish and savored a successful run to the FA Cup semi-finals, while playing some easy-on-the-eye stuff. Having asserted aspirations of aiming even higher in his second season at the helm, Mirror Sport take a closer look at the steps Vieira and Palace must take to kick on next campaign – including addressing the small matter of replacing Conor Gallagher and tying down talisman Wilfried Zaha.

Replacing Gallagher

Crystal Palace’s Player of the Season Conor Gallagher will take some replacing after Thomas Tuchel confirmed he will return to Chelsea

What other steps must Crystal Palace take to kick on under Patrick Vieira next season? Let us know in the comments below!

Few could have predicted just how integral Gallagher would become after he joined the Eagles on loan from Chelsea last summer, but his impact simply cannot be understated. The 22-year-old was the driving force of Palace’s impressive campaign and his consistently exceptional displays saw him recognized as the club’s Player of the Season.

While the statistics read that the midfielder scored eight goals and registered a further five assists across 39 appearances in red and blue, his performances offered so much more. The Chelsea loanee’s energy, tenacity and composure on the ball saw him excel at the heart of Palace’s midfield.

Having seemingly been signed to fill the void left by a serious injury to Eberechi Eze at the end of the previous campaign, Gallagher’s displays were so dominant and decisive that Vieira would have been lamented if he were to leave the midfielder out. His success in South London has proven to be a double-edged sword for the Eagles, however.

While Gallagher’s performances propelled Palace to success last season, in a campaign which included impressive wins over the likes of Manchester City, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United, his displays have eradicated nearly all hope the Eagles harboured of retaining him. It appears Gallagher, who has seen himself involved in Gareth Southgate’s England setup following his success, is part of Thomas Tuchel Chelsea plans next season.

“I believe Conor can be a part of our squad and can play a role with us. But I am not the only one to decide, “the German admitted back in April.” His development is extraordinary and outstanding. “

With the prospect of Palace securing another loan deal for Gallagher or even pushing to land him on a permanent basis looking increasingly unlikely, Vieira’s priority this summer will be replacing the midfielder. That burden is likely to rest on Eze, who showed glimpses of returning to his brilliant best towards the end of last season, while the onus of taking a game by the scruff of the neck may fall on the shoulders of Michael Olise out wide going forward . One thing is for certain: it’s going to take some doing to find a player who can match Gallagher’s work-rate in midfield.

Tying down Zaha

Palace talisman Wilfried Zaha is entering the final year of his current contract at Selhurst Park

After experiencing an unusually quiet summer devoid of speculation last year, Wilfried Zaha produced his finest goalscoring return in a Palace shirt. The Ivorian netted 14 goals in 33 Premier League appearances for the Eagles last season as the lack of distractions seemingly did the South London superstar the world of good.

Zaha appears to idolise Vieira and the acquisitions of Olise, Gallagher and Edouard in the Eagles attack look to have further appeased the forward and his lofty ambitions. Palace’s No.11 now finds himself supported by players who possess a similar quality to his own.

The 29-year-old continued to thrive on the left of a front three last season, but was also handed opportunities to play up front – as well as taking on the responsibility of emerging as his side’s chief penalty taker. Following his exploits last campaign, Vieira issued Zaha with a challenge to add even more goals to his game next term.

When probed over whether the Palace icon is capable of matching the standards set by joint Golden Boot winners Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min, Vieira said in May: “Yes, I do not have any doubt about that.


“When you are looking at the goals he scores, the chances he creates, the chances the team creates, I believe he can get around those figures. Wilf is at the peak of his game and I think he has this maturity to understand the game better than in the last couple of years. “

However, one of Palace’s most pressing issues is tying down the talisman to a new deal. Zaha’s current contract at Selhurst Park expires in a little over 12 months’ time. Having seemingly missed out on his chance to fly the Eagles’ nest amid intense interest from Arsenal in previous years, Palace will be aware there is no better time than the present to tie him down to a new deal and, in the words of Vieira, convince the forward his key career objective should be to build on his “legacy”.

Getting Eze back to his best

Eberechi Eze saw his Palace career stunned following a serious injury back in May 2021

Many Palace fans were full of fear at the end of last campaign. Not only due to the uncertainty caused by an impending squad overhaul, but because they would be without effervescent attacker Eze for a significant chunk of the 2021-22 season.

The former Queen’s Park Rangers creator succumbed to a freak Achilles training injury back in May 2021, just as he was on the cusp of clinching a spot in Southgate’s provisional Euro 2020 squad. The 23-year-old was subsequently sidelined for six months, before making a cautious return in November.

Unsurprisingly the setback stunted his progress at Palace and the emergence of Gallagher as an integral force in the Eagles’ midfield saw his playing time restricted, even after recovering his fitness. Another key priority ahead of the 2022-23 campaign will no doubt be getting Eze back to his brilliant best.

With Gallagher likely to be handed his chance at Chelsea next season, there will be a starting spot in Vieira’s midfield up for grabs, which Eze can duly reclaim. The attacker’s return was also hindered by the fact his recovery occurred midway through the last campaign, but next season things will be different.

Eze now has the opportunity to get a full pre-season under his belt and ensure he is looking sharp by the time the new season rolls around. The midfielder produced some iconic moments of magic in the Premier League prior to his injury, with his solo strike against Sheffield United a stunning reminder of the quality he possesses.

If Palace can help Eze rediscover his confidence ahead of the next campaign, it will feel like the Eagles have landed themselves a new signing. Vieira may already have a ready-made Gallagher replacement within his ranks.

Signing a midfield in the mold of their manager

Palace currently lack a player in the mold of their manager Vieira

While Palace appear likely to dip into the market for a new right-back this summer having failed to replace Aaron Wan-Bissaka, another key area to strengthen will undoubtedly be in central midfield. Reinforcements are required.

Vieira often opted to play a 4-3-3 system last season, playing two other midfielders alongside Gallagher, who was given a free rein. However, something seemed amiss in midfield.

James McArthur remains an undervalued asset in the center of the park, however injuries and the fact he turns 35 this year will provide Vieira with cause for concern. Will Hughes and Jeffrey Schlupp also remain effective options while question marks persist over the futures of former favorite Luka Milivojevic and the versatile Cheikhou Kouyate.

The Eagles have been linked with Lens midfielder Cheick Doucoure this summer



To put it simply, Palace are lacking a player in the mold of their manager. In his pomp, Vieira was one of the Premier League’s greatest midfielders, who was revered for his all-action approach and dogged determination to dominate opponents.

At present, the Eagles lack a more defensive-minded option who can seize control of a match and provide some steel from the heart of the pitch. However, if speculation serves to be true, the Eagles may have identified their man.

Lens enforcer Cheick Doucoure appears to be the ideal candidate to fill the position and is a player who fits the profile required. Huddersfield’s failure to secure promotion to the Premier League may also turn out to be a blessing as the Terriers’ Lewis O’Brien is another option, though there will be questions mark over whether he can make the step up.

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