Top clubs are locked in an endless battle as they constantly attempt to replace a current or former star with the next big thing, and Crystal Palace are no different.
Soon, the capital club will be forced to scour the market and their academy for Wilfried Zaha’s potential successor, but there’s arguably a talismanic figure of their past who’s never been replaced.
Ian Wright made his name in professional football at Selhurst Park after being picked up by the Palace hierarchy while playing for Greenwich Borough in 1985.
The pacey forward grasped his opportunity with both hands after being forced to wait for his big break in the beautiful game, going on to score over 100 Premier League goals for Arsenal and earning 33 England caps.
However, his departure from south London in 1991 has left a sizeable gap in Palace’s forward line ever since.
Wright became synonymous with intelligent movement, electric pace and deadly finishing throughout his career, and only Andy Johnson has come close to replicating those attributes in an Eagles shirt since.
Not now, two decades on from Wright’s exit, the Palace hierarchy may well have the chance to finally bring in a worthy, long-term successor.
Over the summer, Eddie Nketiah was heavily linked with a move across the capital after becoming frustrated with his lack of first-team opportunities at the Emirates Stadium.
A report in The Athletic claimed that the Gunners were holding out for a £20m fee for the highly-rated youngster, but with Palace only willing to pay half of that total, a deal could not be reached, and Nketiah stayed put.
Nevertheless, the youngster has continued to show his class in the current campaign in the limited opportunities he’s received, scoring in each of his two starts in the Carabao Cup, including an extremely well-taken goal against Leeds United.
And it was with the Yorkshire outfit where Nketiah first made his name despite things not working out under the tutelage of Marcelo Bielsa.
Former Republic of Ireland striker Tony Cascarino credits the 22-year-old’s six-month spell at Elland Road with having a sizeable impact upon his development.
“Although Leeds United did not benefit particularly from Nketiah’s loan spell there, it did the player himself the world of good,” he told The Times last year.
“It helped him reach a level of fitness that is very useful to Arteta, who has shown he believes in the player. Nketiah loves to get on the shoulders of defenders and turn them before darting in behind with his blistering pace.”
Cascarino then went even further in his praise for the former England U21 international, comparing him to Wright due to their similar style of play.
“He is agile with quick feet, much like his hero Ian Wright, which denies defenders the time to settle. He makes clever runs, taking defenders where they don’t want to go.
“A lot of young players coming through nowadays are more capable on their weaker foot than their predecessors were, and Nketiah ticks that box,” he concluded.
Only time will tell if Palace revive their interest in Nketiah over the coming months, but he’s certainly someone chairman Steve Parish should be carefully considering making a move for as the Eagles dare to dream of a prosperous new chapter in the club’s history.