Crystal Palace have finally appointed a new manager to succeed Roy Hodgson at Selhurst Park in the shape of Patrick Vieira, but a tough job awaits the Arsenal legend.
While it’s certainly an exciting time for the capital club, much work is needed to be done in the transfer market over the coming months after several departures.
Many senior players left Palace after their contracts expired last month, and although some may yet be offered new deals, Vieira will undoubtedly need to bring in several fresh faces to bolster his options.
His task will be made even trickier if talisman Wilfried Zaha is granted his wish and gets a move away from his boyhood club, although the proceeds from his sale could fund a major squad overhaul.
With that in mind, how could Vieira’s starting XI look next season once the summer transfer window has concluded?
Here’s our prediction…
Spanish shot-stopper Vicente Guaita has been one of the Eagles’ standout performers in recent years and, the 34-year-old is expected to keep his place between the sticks next season.
The full-back positions are also likely to be occupied by familiar faces, with highly-rated 21-year-old Tyrick Mitchell on the left and experienced campaigner Martin Kelly on the opposite flank.
Kelly’s position is expected to come under threat from a new arrival, although rumours surrounding a new right-back have been eerily quiet so far, and the departures of Joel Ward and Nathanial Clyne leave him as the only current option.
It’s at centre-back where Vieira is going to be required to strengthen most. Gary Cahill, Scott Dann and Mamadu Sakho have all walked out the Selhurst Park exit door, leaving James Tomkins as the only central defender on the books.
As a result, at least two new centre-halves will be required in south London, and Nottingham Forest’s Joe Worrall has been linked with a £10 million move in recent weeks.
He could be partnered by the highly-rated Chelsea youngster Marc Guehi after a successful loan spell at Swansea City last term, and with the Blues valuing him at £15m, we think Vieira would be happy to sanction both deals.
Another Chelsea youngster who could be on the move this summer is Conor Gallagher. The England Under-21 international is expected to command a £15m fee, and he’d offer energy just ahead of the experienced Luka Milivojevic.
Alongside Gallagher could be Juventus star Aaron Ramsey. The Wales international has been linked with an £8.5m move to Palace, and the pull of working under a former Arsenal great could attract the 30-year-old to the capital club.
The Gunners’ Eddie Nketiah and Sassuolo’s Jeremie Boga, both linked with Palace, could bolster their attack in £20m and £34m moves, respectively, while Celtic’s Ryan Christie could arrive for a significantly lower fee (£1m).