Crystal Palace are becoming too overreliant on Wilfried Zaha this season, and manager Roy Hodgson should target an ambitious move for Nice forward Allan Saint-Maximin to try and ease the burden on the Ivory Coast international’s shoulders.
For the most part of this campaign, Zaha’s immense abilities have been shackled by the lack of real quality around him in the Palace team. Opposition teams have wised up to the fact that if you stop the Ivorian, you stop the Eagles; with no players elsewhere in Hodgson’s side who can take advantage of the space, the aforementioned statement unfortunately rings true.
It is looking easier and easier to defend against the south London side every week. It really is a case of sticking three or four men on the former Manchester United winger throughout the game, wind him up a bit with a few kicks, and take home the three points.
Even more so, in Christian Benteke’s absence, there is no-one to properly contest aerial balls and attract the defenders’ attention to allow Zaha that bit of room he needs to work his magic. Whilst that is one of the Belgian striker’s main selling points at present, it is not good enough and more needs to be done to free up the Palace academy graduate and talisman.
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So, what can be done? The midfield at Selhurst Park possesses little attacking threat. James McArthur, Luka Milivojevic and Cheikhou Kouyate form too rigid a structure to push on and harm the opposition, spending most of their time defending instead.
Max Meyer could potentially utilise the space afforded by Zaha, but he has seen little gametime since arriving from Schalke as he continues to acclimatise. Additionally, Andros Townsend spends too much time tracking back to be found in dangerous attacking areas, and don’t even get me started on what Jordan Ayew and Alexander Sorloth are capable of. Spoiler alert: not much.
Palace need another Zaha type. A player who can pick the ball up, drive at defenders and give them something else to think about, much like Yannick Bolasie used to do whilst in red and blue.
In what seems to be almost the perfect signing for the Eagles, Nice’s Allan Saint-Maximin has been topping the ‘take-on’ rankings alongside Zaha for many years now. Furthermore, at just 21 years of age, the Frenchman would certainly be a wise investment.
He has recorded two goals and two assists in Ligue 1 this season; reports suggest that Hodgson will be backed in the January transfer window this winter, and he would be a fool if he doesn’t try to spend a large chunk on the exciting winger.