Why seasoned full-back Rafael would be a good fit at Crystal Palace
Roy Hodgson’s Palace, who never really managed to find a replacement for summer-departee Aaron Wan-Bissaka, are now in the market for Rafael, whose club Lyon are ready to cash in on the out-of-favour full-back.
The Brazilian has fallen down the pecking order at the French side, having managed just 7 league appearances this season. Rafael, a 3-time Premier League winner with Manchester United, has played a total of 129 matches for Lyon since moving from Old Trafford in 2015.
However, he has found game time hard to come by, with Dutchman Kenny Tete being preferred over him by current coach Rudi Garcia. With the side having as many as three right-backs including Rafael, they are now willing to offload the 29-year-old, who is deemed surplus to their requirements.
Meanwhile, Palace will face stiff competition from league rivals Southampton and Brighton, who have also been offered the Brazilian, with all three now desperate to make new full-back signings.
Palace, who let young full-back Bissaka move to Manchester United last summer, did not bring in any new faces as a replacement. They rather chose to go on with their set of right-backs which includes the likes of seasoned campaigners Joel Ward and Martin Kelly.
However, constant injuries to veteran Ward, especially in recent weeks, have become a cause of concern for the Eagles.
Ward’s absence, on the other hand, has opened the doors for Kelly, who has done a decent job in a back-four that has conceded only 23 goals from 21 league games. Only Liverpool (14), Leicester City (19), and Sheffield United (21) have a better defensive record than them in the league.
With the side struggling to find the back of the net, it has been their defence that has excelled this season and Hodgson intends to keep it that way, with the side now just 2 points short of a Europa League play-off spot.
Hodgson would also be aware that it would be difficult to finish the gruelling season with just 2 right-backs in the squad and thus, is in pursuit of a new face who could add more strength to their backline.
Meanwhile, Rafael with his 7 years of Premier League experience, would be a great addition to Hodgson’s side, having plied his trade with one of the top-clubs not just in England, but in Europe at that time.
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It would not take him much time to adjust to the new conditions at Selhurst Park, having had the experience of playing in the English soil. Aged 29, Rafael still has a lot more to offer, though injuries have slowed him down a bit.
However, all these years of experience will have shored up his defensive game, which could be an invaluable asset to the Eagles, who in honesty are not one of the top clubs in the league.
Crystal Palace clearly are short of options in the right-back role at the moment and an injury or dip in form to either of them could have drastic effects on the side’s performance. Hence, it would be wise if the Eagles land the experienced Rafael.