It’s been a low key summer for Crystal Palace so far when it comes to transfers. Ruben Loftus-Cheek has been brought in on loan from Chelsea, bringing in just a little more depth to a midfield which saw both Ledley and Flamini depart in the summer. The first permanent signing over the line was Dutch jack-of-all-trades Jairo Riedewald whose signing means we can turn to strengthening other areas of the pitch – but where?
Ever since Mandanda failed to regain his place in the team after injury last season there were murmurs of discontent, rumours of his desire to return to Marseille, the club he’d joined from just months previously. In July the deal that had been rumbled in the background for literally months finally materialised, leaving us looking a little short of goalkeepers.
Wayne Hennessey rightly came in for criticism last season after a number of questionable performances dotted throughout the season but successive managers have backed him over Speroni which says a lot. Julian should absolutely still be a part of the squad, you can’t overestimate the influence of players that truly understand what it means to play for Crystal Palace, but his days as first choice are surely done.
All that leaves Wayne Hennessey as the likely first choice going into the new season, which inspires about as much confidence as Ade Akinbiyi bearing down on goal…
Right wing back
If de Boer is going to persist with a 3-5-2 then if there is one position we simply must fill, it is at right wing back. Pre-season has seen Andros Townsend filling in back there, but a left footed offensive player surely cannot represent a reasonable option going forward. Martin Kelly and Joel Ward are the more traditional options at right full back but both fall into the bracket of ‘defensive full back’ and I feel they’d struggle to make enough of an impact going forward.
Loic Remy made little impact last season due to his injury troubles, but his depature along with Fraizer Campbell’s release poses a problem going into the new season. Connor Wickham remains sidelined with injury and after the latest in a string of lengthly he’s not going to be rushed back into the team even when he is back fit.
All this means Christian Benteke remains our lone striker in more than one sense of the word. Ladapo and Keshi Anderson are options but are yet to be at the level where you’d be comfortable giving them an extended run in the team if push came to shove and horror of horrors Benteke was out for weeks or months. Another loan deal could be ideal, we’ve already seen during this window that bringing in a forward of any note is cost prohibitive. Personally, I’d like to have seen someone like Tammy Abraham come in, a young player that gave Championship defences the run around last season but still has a lot to prove. That being said, that interest is purely academic now and we’ll have to turn our attention elsewhere, if indeed it was ever on Tammy in the first place.
In an ideal world, I’m sure Frank de Boer would love to strengthen all of these areas but it remains to be seen whether either the money is there or the deals can be put together. Financial fair play rules are surely on the horizon given our spending both last summer and in the winter window under Sam Allardyce and so we must temper out expectations in that respect.
With two weeks to go until the start of the season it will surely be the target to get another player over the line in that period so they can be involved from the opening weekend but whether or not that’ll be achieved only time will tell.