6 Key Areas That Crystal Palace Should Look to Strengthen This Summer

After narrowly avoiding relegation to the Championship under the guidance of survival expert Sam Allardyce, Crystal Palace have had a much needed wake up call. After a succession of mediocre transfer windows, in addition to frequent dips in form from key players, the new boss Frank de Boer will look to recruit smartly in an attempt to disassociate the club with the bottom half of the table. Here are six areas he will look to improve, as well as possible players the Dutchman could target....

Wing Areas

Starting XI: Wilfried Zaha/Andros Townsend

Substitute: Bakary Sako


Undoubtedly one of Palace's most effective positions, the Eagles are renowned for having tricky wingers on either side of a target man, looking to beat their man and get a cross in, or go for goal themselves. 


Saying that, if Wilfried Zaha or Andros Townsend were to pick up a serious injury, Palace would struggle to instil the fear factor into opposition full backs that they currently do, as their reinforcements are lacking the potency of the aforementioned pair. 


Malian Bakary Sako seemed to be a distinct threat in his early days, scoring in his first two appearances against Aston Villa and Chelsea, although concerns over his fitness have seen him tail off. 


Palace should look to reinforce their credible reputation for skilful, direct wingers by targeting Middlesbrough's Adama Traore, who would not be adverse to a move following their relegation to the Championship.

Left Centre Back

Starting XI: James Tomkins

Substitute: Damien Delaney


Having lost Mamadou Sakho after his loan from Liverpool expired, and his permanent signing being unlikely due to a £30m valuation, Palace will need to be in the market for a left-sided, preferably left-footed centre back to play alongside the right sided Scott Dann or James Tomkins. 


Irishman Damien Delaney is a left-footed option, although an unpopular one, as the 35-year-old's trademark punts up the pitch leave fans reeling. His time at the club looks to be coming to an end as he was left on the bench in place of left-back Jeffrey Schlupp for the game at the Etihad last season, and De Boer will certainly seek a ball-playing centre back. 


The situation is being addressed at least, with the signing of Ajax centre back Jairo Riedewald imminent, as well as agreeing a fee with Porto for Bruno Martins Indi, both of which are left-footed, left-sided centre backs, and not very surprisingly, both Dutch. 

Centre Forward

Starting XI: Christian Benteke

Substitute: Connor Wickham


Seeing as Christian Benteke scored 17 goals for the Eagles last season, you'd be forgiven for questioning why the striker position would be a problem for Palace. 


But after the inexplicable sale of Dwight Gayle to Newcastle last summer, and Connor Wickham's serious ACL injury soon afterwards, Benteke was left to hold the baton up top for the south London club and did well to avoid injury. If the big Belgian were to have picked up an injury, the talents of deputy Fraizer Campbell were hardly comparable and given his recent departure, Palace are even lighter up front. 


Rather surprisingly, Robin van Persie has been mentioned as a potential signing for Palace, as well as Manchester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho, although he is reportedly on his way to Leicester City. 

Central Attacking Midfield

Starting XI: Jason Puncheon

Substitute: Lee Chung-yong


After recently being given the captain's armband by Sam Allardyce, Jason Puncheon's position on the team-sheet looked set in stone. The Croydon born midfielder is an inspirational figure on the pitch and is admired by fans due to his south London links, but for his attacking position behind the striker, some fans feel that he should offer more of a goal threat. 


Scoring zero goals and assisting five, Palace's number 42 should undoubtedly be more productive given his position. And at the age of 31, his time is running out to perform and keep his space. South Korean Lee Chung-yong has done little to compete with Puncheon, and is rumoured to be on his way out of Selhurst this summer. 


A dynamic, goalscoring number ten should be high on Palace's summer shopping list, and Ajax maestro Hakim Ziyech would fit the mould should de Boer, formerly of Ajax, look to target the Moroccan. 

Right Back

Starting XI: Joel Ward

Substitute: Martin Kelly 


The right-back position at Crystal Palace has become a problem area in recent years, due to ill-advised recruitment of a left back leaving square pegs in round holes, as well as a demand to play a more expressive and open style of football. 


After Alan Pardew's resistance to sign a left back last summer to compete with Pape Souare, coupled with the Senegalese's recent car crash, the ever reliable utility man Joel Ward and Martin Kelly were forced to share the position for the best part of six months. The experiment ended in disaster as both players were continuously caught out, and even when either of them found themselves in their more favoured right back role, the demand to play more expansive football did not suit them. 


If, as expected, de Boer adopts a high intensity, attacking style of football, the future of Palace's record attendance holder in the Premier League Joel Ward could be under threat. Having struggled to adapt to expansive football in the past, Ward could be cast away as a substitute in favour of signing a more mobile, attacking full-back. 


Fenerbahce's Dutch right-back Gregory van der Wiel has been touted as a possible candidate for the role, and would work well under the tuition of his countryman de Boer. 

Goalkeeper

Starting XI: Wayne Hennessey

Substitute: Julian Speroni


After any hopes of Frank de Boer convincing French goalkeeper Steve Mandanda to stay had been dashed by his return to Marseille, amidst rumours of homesickness, the number one shirt at Selhurst Park is again up for grabs. 


With Welshman Wayne Hennessey currently occupying the position between the sticks, fans have expressed discontent at the possibility of this trend continuing into the 2017/18 season, as the former Wolves man is no stranger to an error or two and displays a surprising inability to command his area given his 6′ 6″ frame. 


Furthermore, the presence of club-legend Julian Speroni amongst the substitutes bench every week is becoming merely a feature of sentimentality as opposed to a valid goalkeeping option, and although the Selhurst faithful would love to see the Argentine don the number one shirt consistently again, the realists among them understand that the 38 year-old's best days are behind him. 


It has been rumoured that de Boer is looking to take Barcelona and Holland keeper Jasper Cillessen from Catalonia to Croydon as he attempts to link up with his former number one at Ajax, although PSV keeper Jeroen Zoet is also reportedly an option. 

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