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Crystal Palace: Ola Aina would be a big Clyne upgrade

Crystal Palace are reportedly interested in signing Torino right-back Ola Aina this month, and the Nigeria international could be a big upgrade on Nathaniel Clyne in Patrick Vieira‘s side.

Reports from Nigeria in recent weeks suggest that West Ham, Leeds United and Palace have all been keen on the former Chelsea man, whose contract is set to expire at the end of the season.

While that means that the Eagles would be free to approach him now with the view to signing him on a free transfer in the summer, Vieira’s obvious need for a right-back suggests that the 26-year-old could arrive at Selhurst Park this month, with a fee of €10m (£9m) likely to be enough to bring him back to England.

The Palace manager has alternated between Joel Ward and Clyne in that position so far this term, with the two experienced defenders ranked as the ninth and 15th best performers respectively in Vieira’s squad according to WhoScored, which suggests that an upgrade is needed in the second half of the campaign.

Meanwhile, Aina is ranked as the best player in Torino’s squad by the same site after averaging a strong 6.74 rating across his 10 Serie A appearances so far this season, which emphasises the quality that he could add at Selhurst Park.

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He has also averaged more shots (0.6 vs none), key passes (0.7 vs 0.4) and dribbles (1.1 vs 0.2) than Clyne in the current campaign, which suggests that he would be a significant upgrade from an attacking perspective, something which is further emphasised by one “unreal” assist for Nigeria – in the words of compatriot journalist Michael Oti Adjei – back in 2019.

Former Torino team-mate Christian Ansaldi was full of praise for the former Fulham loanee in 2021, saying: “I see him (Aina) very often. He has an intelligence that allows him to play in many positions, then physically he is an animal.”

The versatile defender featured 31 times for Fulham in the 2020/21 Premier League season and averaged a decent 6.63 rating from WhoScored, so he could definitely be trusted to do a job at Selhurst Park.

Therefore, given the comparatively poor performances of the 31-year-old Clyne so far this season – his WhoScored rating is a lowly 6.27 – Vieira should definitely look to bring in a younger, more adept replacement such as Aina this month.