Roy Hodgson has hinted Nathaniel Clyne is close to signing a new contract with Crystal Palace which reeks of sheer desperation from Doug Freedman and Steve Parish.
Hodgson had been on the search for a new right-back to compete with Joel Ward for a place in the starting line-up but settled for Clyne in the summer after Nathan Ferguson succumbed to injury.
Speaking to reporters prior to the Premier League clash with Arsenal at the Emirates on Thursday night, the Eagles boss said:
“I think Nathaniel Clyne is just about to sign a deal with us.
“I think that problem, if you like, is not a problem because I’m led to believe we’re very close to Nathaniel signing something.
“There are a lot of other players who are out of contract at the end of the year and there doesn’t appear to be a clear decision made whether or not to offer them a new contract.
“These are discussions going on behind the scenes with some intensity between Doug Freedman, the player and his agent.”
As alluded to on FFC last month, Ferguson’s latest injury setback has paved the way for Clyne to earn a contract extension. However, his performances so far have just failed to justify such an extension.
His former Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp might have called the 29-year-old a “machine” back in 2016 but the former England international has arguably failed to impress since his return to Selhurst Park in the extended summer transfer window.
Clyne, who was once likened to former Palace fullback Aaron Wan-Bissaka, has made nine appearances in the Premier League so far this season and has one assist to show for his nine starts, via Transfermarkt, with Palace sitting 13th in the table and a point behind newly-promoted Leeds United halfway through the season. Likewise, Ward has contributed to one goal in eight top-flight appearances this season, via WhoScored.
Unfortunately for Clyne, it is his defensive contributions that have let Hodgson down the most. He ranks the fifth-worst in terms of WhoScored ratings having been graded a miserable 6.41, which is lower than the likes of Ward and Tyrick Mitchell, and has shown a weakness for aerial duels, meaning he is playing far worse than Hodgson would otherwise have led you to believe from a defensive point of view.
At the same time, Palace have conceded 29 goals this season, which is the same amount as Premier League strugglers Sheffield United. That’s a pretty appalling statistic for a manager who prides himself on his defensive record and organisation.
Whilst it might seem harsh to solely pin the blame on the £3m-rated Clyne, the fact of the matter remains that he has arguably struggled to replicate the form that saw him crowned Palace’s Player of the Year in the the 2010–11 campaign.
This season, the former Liverpool defender is averaging 1.3 tackles per game. Ward, on the other hand, has made 1.6 tackles on average per game, despite the fact the experienced veteran has started fewer games so far.
With Ferguson still out injured and Hodgson needing cover at right-back, rather than taking a risk and dipping into the market, it seems like this is a cop-out from Parish.
Given he currently earns around £80,000-per week at Selhurst Park, Parish will surely be hoping that Clyne’s performances will drastically improve otherwise he may be left staring at a rather expensive mistake.
AND in other news, Crystal Palace must avoid signing one Serie A striker in January…