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May 26 2020 6.17pm

A summer crossroads for Palace

June 11 2019

Selhurst Park

Selhurst Park

To many football supporters around the world, Crystal Palace is no ordinary club, writes Ashley Munson.

If you are an international fan, maybe American, probably going to Selhurst Park is the closest you can get to experience a game among the NFL Superbowl favourites with cheerleaders and other details that resemble a USA franchise.

But there is one thing that differentiates the Premier League from the NFL: there is no draft and thus, Palace could struggle this summer to compete for players and keep their jewels.

Roy Hodgson’s men gave a sound account of themselves last season, finishing comfortably away from any fear of a relegation battle in 12th place. But are they content being a mid-table side who rely on a potential cup run for the excitement or do they push into the top half and compete for the European places?

Of course, the hierarchy at Selhurst Park will know all too well that getting those decisions wrong could lead to a scrap at the wrong end of the table and nobody at the club wants that again.

There are players in the dressing room who are desirable and that means either the new season starts with a sprinkling of talent in the team or the players are sold and some serious cash generated. Of course, that money would have to be reinvested.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who featured heavily last campaign and put in a string of eye-catching performances, is rumoured to be the talk of a £40million offer from Manchester United. Palace are said to want £60m for the 21-year-old, but anything in the region of £50m is likely to see a deal materialise.

Andros Townsend is another who has been linked with a move away. Leicester have been touted as a potential destination for the winger and that is a move that could definitely gain some traction as the summer progresses. Townsend has been sensational in short bursts for Palace and he will most likely be remembered for that astonishing volley against champions Manchester City that gave him the Goal of the Season award.

He particularly showed that star quality towards the end of the season, and his match-winning ability would be missed, but has he done enough consistently to break the bank to keep him? Palace would expect to receive in the region of £15m-20m to consider a deal though.

The other player who is attracting attention across Europe is Wilfred Zaha. The talisman has previously spent time at a ‘big four' club in Man United and it didn’t work out, but the time will come where he wants to give it another go. If a team comes calling, the move will happen if Zaha wants it to but at what price?

If Wan-Bissaka is valued at £60m, then Steve Parish is likely to slap a near £100m on his most-prized asset. The bids for Zaha will come but keeping him for next season is a must if Palace want to progress. The player said he would be keen to move to a Champions League club, but right now the most likely destination is Arsenal… so he would have to settle for Europa League.

If both players depart, the bank will see a hefty lump of cash arrive. So where does that need to be reinvested?

Assuming Wan-Bissaka is the biggest loss this window, then undoubtedly a right-sided full back will be high up on Hodgson’s list. A name that will feature in his thoughts is a player he gave his international debut, Nathaniel Clyne. Clyne is surplus to requirements at Anfield, but at 28 he still has plenty to offer and could be drafted in.

A signing that could catch a few by surprise is that of Harry Wilson – another Liverpool player – who could be seen as a direct replacement for Townsend.

Wilson spent last season on loan at Derby in the Championship and netted 18 goals, assisting six more. Attacking areas is somewhere Palace need to improve, and although Jurgen Klopp is looking for £25m for an untried talent at Premiership level, his young age means his value will increase with strong displays.

Finally, whether Christian Benteke moves on or not, a striker is without doubt required. Palace only scored two or more goals in around a third of their games last year and the high-scoring final day win against Bournemouth is fooling nobody.

Connor Wickham will hope to feature more heavily next season, which will help but the addition of more firepower could push Palace to new heights. Free agents Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge have been linked but with a decent kitty available a brand-new strike force could come to town.

Tammy Abraham is one name who springs to mind – dependant on the Chelsea transfer ban – and Alexander Mitrovic, who performed well during Fulham's relegation campaign, is another who would be warmly welcomed.

This summer might prove longer than others as speculation drags on but it’s not all bad, in fact, it could prove to be a great one for the long-term future of the club.

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