Crystal Palace have made great progress on the pitch under Patrick Vieira in the opening weeks of the season, but his squad rebuild off it is far from complete.
The Frenchman oversaw significant changes in personnel during his first summer at the helm, replacing several experienced campaigners with a host of exciting young talents.
So far, it appears as though Vieira has expertly identified some astute acquisitions for the south London club, and he must do so again over the coming months if they’re to continue making progress.
It was recently reported that striker Jean-Philippe Mateta is set to depart Palace in January after failing to impress during his loan spell, so Vieira is likely to be in the market for a replacement for him in January.
One player who would be an ideal candidate to do just that is Arsenal’s unwanted forward Eddie Nketiah.
The Eagles were first linked with the 22-year-old in the previous transfer window when The Athletic claimed that Palace were willing to pay £10m for the youngster, but a deal couldn’t be agreed between the two clubs as the Gunners were holding out for a £20m fee.
If Mateta does leave Selhurst Park over the winter, Christian Benteke and Odsonne Edouard would then be the only recognised strikers in Vieira’s first team squad.
With the latter already deputising out wide on multiple occasions this season due to Palace’s limited attacking options, a new striker will be needed if Palace are to fulfil their potential in 2021/22. In Nketiah, Vieira could unearth a gem capable of finding the back of the net on a regular basis for the Eagles for many years to come.
The £10.8m-rated gem was lauded by his current boss Mikel Arteta last season, with the Spaniard lauding the forward’s maturity and potential.
“I want him to keep doing what he’s doing. The way he played last night against those players, in those difficult conditions, for me is extraordinary at his age,” said the Arsenal manager.
“He has an immense personality to play, confidence, he’s powerful and is developing in every area I think. I have a lot of faith in him.”
Despite only receiving two starts this season – both in the Carabao Cup – Nketiah has continued to show his class, scoring on both occasions, including a delightful goal against Leeds United last time out.
Therefore, Palace chairman Steve Parish must revive his interest in the former England under-21 international, providing Vieira with the strength in depth that he needs to bring the club forward.