A Dream Crystal Palace Lineup For Next Season
Crystal Palace have had an extremely poor season in the Premier League. The Eagles were expected to have another smooth sailing with a mid-table finish this season, with the quality of the squad that they had their disposal.
But things went completely awry and the Eagles found themselves battling for survival in the relegation zone, leading to the sacking of then-manager Alan Pardew. Survival specialist Sam Allardyce was brought in to do the job, but things did not start well for the former England boss. But Palace have managed to pull themselves in the right direction in recent weeks, having collected a very good 16 points from their last 7 league fixtures.
Palace are placed 15th in the league standings, 7 points clear of the relegation zone. But with 6 games still left to be played, they are not completely safe from the drop.
However, planning for the next season seems to be well underway already as Allardyce and Palace have been linked with moves for several players in the window, while some of their stars have been linked with a move away as well.
Considering all the transfer rumours, here is how Palace could line-up if they get their wishes in the market in the upcoming summer:
Dream Crystal Palace XI:
Steve Mandanda has had to endure a lengthy spell on the sidelines in which Wayne Hennessey has performed admirably for Palace. But ideally, the Eagles would like the Frenchman to return between the sticks for the upcoming season.
Joel Ward has been excelling at right-back this season and has been a constant fixture in the line-up. He shall continue in the upcoming season as well.
At centre-back, Crystal Palace have two great options in Scott Dann and James Tomkins. These two will be vying for the spot on the right-side of central defence and Allardyce could go with Tomkins as has been the case this season until the defender got injured.
The other centre-half position has been taken by loan signing Mamadou Sakho since February this year. The Frenchman is unwanted at Liverpool and will be let go in the summer. Palace are interested in his services, but could be overawed by the £30 million price tag. However, if they manage to work out a deal, he will become a huge signing for the club and will be the leader of the defence.
Patrick van Aanholt has had a stop-start spell so far with Palace due to injuries, after having joined in the January window. But once 100% fit, he will be the first-choice left-back in the line-up ahead of Jeffrey Schlupp and Papa Souare.
Luka Milivojevic is another player who has made a huge impact since arriving in the winter window. He will hold on to his place at the base of the Palace midfield next season.
On the right-hand side, Wilfried Zaha has had a spectacular season for the Eagles. But he has been strongly linked with a move to Tottenham Hotspur. If Palace manage to convince the player to stay at Selhurst Park, it will be nothing short of a coup.
In the middle of the park, Yohan Cabaye is all set to leave the Eagles and return to France for a spell with Olympique Marseille. Palace have a replacement lined up in the shape of Guessouma Fofana, of French second division side Amiens. If Allardyce manages to get his hands on the 24-year old midfielder, Fofana will walk into the starting XI.
The second central midfielder spot will be held by the ever present Jason Puncheon. The former Southampton star has been one of the most consistent players for Palace this season and his value to the team is immense.
On the left-flank, Andros Townsend should retain his place in the playing XI. The former Tottenham man was linked with a move to Newcastle United in January, but the interest seems to have cooled off since then and Palace should be able to hold onto him in the summer.
Leading the line for Palace will be record signing Christian Benteke. The 26-year old Belgian international has scored 12 league goals in his first season at Selhurst Park and Allardyce would be relying on him for goals next season too.