Crystal Palace’s squad looks entirely different to how it did last season, and that is in large part down to manager Patrick Vieira’s recruitment skills.
The Eagles saw seven first-team stars leave the club in the summer at the end of their contract, meaning the former Arsenal captain had a big job of rebuilding the playing squad during his first summer in charge.
Vieira signed Michael Olise, Odsonne Edouard, Connor Gallagher, Marc Guehi, Will Hughes and Joachim Andersen to replenish an ageing side and has earned widespread acclaim for his new-look approach with the side since taking over.
Despite the change of style and good performances though, Palace have been restricted to just three wins in the Premier League this season from 14 games. They’ve only been beaten five times in total, but they’ve seen the points shared on seven occasions – with only Brighton drawing on more occasions than them.
This has led to speculation that the 45-year-old will be keen to invest in the squad further during the January transfer window, with Rangers playmaker Joe Aribo linked with a move to England.
Aribo has so far been in good form for the Scottish champions this season, with five goals and two assists in 16 appearances from the wing, including two strikes in his last three appearances. With just 18 months remaining on his contract, the 25-year-old Nigerian is reportedly available as new manager Giovanni Van Bronckhorst considers letting the £6m-rated man leave.
While he would come into a Palace side and continue their new vision of young, hungry players with a point to prove, this is a signing that Palace and Vieira don’t need right now.
Much of their stuttering start can be considered to be down to, at least in part, the absence of gifted playmaker Eberechi Eze for the start of the season. The 23-year-old missed the back end of last season and the start of the current campaign with a serious achilles injury but has recently returned to action in recent weeks.
He’s clearly not yet fully fit, but the £18m-rated star was a key man last season with ten goal contributions in the Premier League and brings many of the same qualities that Aribo would bring to the squad.
Described as a “great talent” by Steve McLaren, Eze is a tremendous ball carrier, with the ability to beat players one-on-one, deliver a final pass and even score goals. Thus he will fit in perfectly to the system that Vieira has opted to bring to south London.
Palace have got flaws in their squad they can look to fill in January, but a playmaker when you have Eze returning to the team shouldn’t be one of them. By bringing the Englishman back into the fold over the winter, he could just save the club millions in terms of potential transfer fees.
AND in other news, Patrick Vieira must unleash Michael Olise.