Crystal Palace must revive their interest in OGC Nice defender Youcef Atal over the January window as new manager Patrick Vieira aims to complete the rebuild of his first-team squad.
The versatile 25-year-old was linked with a move to the Premier League outfit in the summer after working under Vieira during their time together in the south of France.
However, a move never materialised for Atal, and he stayed put at the Allianz Riviera, where he’s continued to impress in the opening weeks of the current campaign.
But, with his contract set to expire in the summer of 2023, the winter window may be the last opportunity for Nice to secure a fair price for the Algeria international, meaning an imminent exit could be on the cards.
Vieira oversaw a successful overhaul of his squad during his first few months in the Selhurst Park hot seat, with the likes of Odsonne Edouard, Marc Guehi and Michael Olise replacing several experienced campaigners.
However, one area that wasn’t addressed was right-back. Although Joel Ward and Nathaniel Clyne are adequate options, journalist Tom Barclay believes the capital club will be looking for an upgrade in that position over the coming months.
Speaking to GIVEMESPORT, Barclay said: “On the right-hand side at the moment, Joel Ward is a fantastic servant, very reliable, fantastic defensively, but is probably not technically the most gifted.
“And I imagine going forward, in this process that Vieira is trying to put in, they probably want a more creative, technically better right-back playing in that position.”
Vieira is clearly a fan of the defender after signing him from KV Kortrijk in 2018, stating he believes that right-back is also Atal’s best position in a previous interview.
“What you need is trying to find the balance of the team. For Youcef, of course, he can play different positions,” the Frenchman told media back in 2019. “It is true that the one I prefer is also right back, I’m very happy with his performances when he plays in front.”
So far this season, Atal has achieved a SofaScore rating of 7.01 out of 10 after scoring one goal and providing one assist in seven Ligue 1 outings.
The £13.5m-rated beast also created one big chance, averaged 0.6 key passes per game and 0.9 successful dribbles, highlighting his attacking prowess in the final third of the pitch.
He’s a player that Vieira would surely love to be reunited with at Selhurst Park, and Palace chairman Steve Parish must sanction a swoop for him, adding one of the final pieces to the club’s revamped side.