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Player Zone: Vicente Guaita was incredible value

With a defence most teams outside the top-six would die for, a penalty master and a winger who has got the big clubs swooning, Palace have plenty of assets in their side that make them one of the most exciting sides to watch in the Premier League, but they are not without their weaknesses.

Until his standout performance versus Arsenal last month, Christian Benteke’s career at Selhurst Park had been lurching from disaster to disaster, while Jordan Ayew, Alexander Sorloth and Connor Wickham don’t cut the mustard and Michy Batshuayi has been distinctly average since signing in January. It’s clear that the Eagles must invest heavily in a striker this summer or at least be shrewd with who they bring in to lead the line next term.

Fortunately, and permitting that they hold onto the likes of Wilfried Zaha and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, this is the only glaring issue facing Roy Hodgson and co ahead of their seventh consecutive season in the top flight. The longstanding problem that was Wayne Hennessey between the sticks is a distant memory now, with Vicente Guaita proving a very, very astute signing.

The Spaniard has won plaudits galore with some impressive reflex stops, of which his jaw-dropping save from Cenk Tosun at Selhurst Park two weeks ago is the latest, and has arguably been crucial to his side’s sustained success despite the absence of central-defensive pairing James Tomkins and Mamadou Sakho through injury.

While the aforementioned duo work their way back to fitness, Scott Dann and Martin Kelly have filled in and, aside from the latter’s blunder at Cardiff last time out, they have deputised brilliantly. Both deserve credit for the job they’ve done in recent weeks but the confidence inspired by having Guaita’s calm, assured presence behind them cannot be understated.

Sure, the Spaniard has made the rare mistake since ousting Hennessey from the starting lineup on a permanent basis, but it’s undeniable that he’s a huge upgrade on the towering Welshman – and Palace got him for free.

The SE25 outfit have taken some notable steps in the transfer market to maximise the success that this prolonged spell in the top flight can yield, including the big money additions of the aforementioned Sakho and Benteke, although Guaita might just be their best bit of business in terms of value since they re-signed Zaha in 2015.

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Captain Luka Milivojevic is a close second but the fact that Palace have been able to solve a problem that has plagued them since they achieved promotion to the top flight in 2013 without spending a penny is phenomenal.

At 32-years-old, Guaita has time left at the top of his game and, in terms of the impact he’s made to the team and the efforts he’s gone to since crossing the channel, there is no better value for money Palace addition in the past few years.

Article title: Player Zone: Vicente Guaita was incredible value

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