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Crystal Palace: Dwight McNeil could resurrect Christian Benteke’s Eagles career

This article is part of Football FanCast’s Transfer Focus series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent transfer news…

According to The Sun, Crystal Palace are eyeing up Burnley prospect Dwight McNeil as a potential candidate to replace Wilfried Zaha, when the want-away winger eventually leaves Selhurst Park.

What’s the word, then?

Well, the south Londoners are reportedly keeping tabs on the 20-year-old, who was let go from Manchester United’s academy before rising through the ranks at Turf Moor.

McNeil – an England U21 international – has scored one goal while also recording four assists in the Premier League this season, becoming a regular under Sean Dyche.

The aforementioned report states that Palace are interested in a £20m deal for McNeil, who could help resurrect the fortunes of one current Eagles man who is struggling under Roy Hodgson.

McNeil would play to Christian Benteke’s strengths

Back in September, we outlined how Jordan Ayew’s good form, and Benteke’s not-so-good form, was a result of Palace crossing the ball less under Hodgson in comparison to previous years under Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce.

Palace delivered 23 crosses per game in the 2016/17 Premier League campaign – the second-most in the division – in a season where Benteke scored 15 goals with seven coming via his head.

However, under Hodgson last season, just 15 crosses were delivered per 90 minutes, the fewest in the league – this term, that number is 15 again, the third-fewest.

The Belgium international has managed just four goals in his last 64 appearances for the south Londoners, where his well-documented ability in the air has not been exploited at all by Hodgson as the former England manager’s methods do not work to Benteke’s strengths.

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Who is this obscure former Palace player?

However, crossing is arguably McNeil’s main strength and he could well help the former Liverpool striker rediscover some goalscoring form if he did swap Turf Moor for Selhurst Park.

The Burnley youngster whips in 1.8 accurate crosses per game in the Premier League this season, whereas Andros Townsend records just 0.4 – Zaha records even less that that, crossing the ball accurately just 0.3 times per game.

The Premier League’s official website also highlighted McNeil’s efficiency in terms of delivering set-pieces, as he completed 15 of his 21 corners into the box effectively last season.

Do you think Dwight McNeil would help Christian Benteke?

Yes

Yes

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Given Benteke’s love of scoring headers and obvious dominance in the air, signing McNeil could well be good news for the misfiring 29-year-old.

In other news, these Crystal Palace fans were impressed with a rarely-seen man’s performance against Watford at the weekend…

Article title: Crystal Palace: Dwight McNeil could resurrect Christian Benteke’s Eagles career

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