Free Agency frenzy – Crystal Palace have a busy summer on the horizon
By Mitchell Weaver
Crystal Palace face a busy 2021 with no less than 18 players contracts due to expire next summer.
The Eagles have the oldest team in the Premier League with an average age of 29.8.
The young recruits brought in this summer signal a new beginning could be on the horizon for the club.
Summer 2021 could see a max exodus of stars leaving South London, many ageing.
However, some contractual decisions may be more difficult than others.
Here are three players with expiring contracts that could cause a real headache for the Eagles hierarchy.
Patrick Van Aanholt – Defender – 30 years old
The Dutch international defender has made 118 appearances for the Eagles since being signed by Sam Allardyce in January 2017.
It’s safe to say Van Aanholt is best known for his attacking prowess rather than his defending. With 13 league goals he is Palace’s highest scoring defender in their Premier League history.
The Dutchman is also a fan favourite due to his Twitter presence where he is known to regularly interact with fans and show a real love for the club.
However, with his defensive awareness lacking, as well as him now being the wrong side of 30, his time at Palace is certainly in doubt.
Palace could look to academy graduate Tyrick Mitchell as a replacement after his impressive spell in the side when Van Aanholt was injured.
Verdict: “Re-sign Van Aanholt on a 2-year extension. Still has the pace to keep going and would be a fantastic backup to Mitchell once he is ready.”
Christian Benteke – Striker – 30 years old
The Belgian has been a big topic of conversation in recent weeks with his improved form.
With only 25 goals in 123 games for the Eagles, the question remains on whether he can prove to be worthy of a new contract.
Although a polarizing figure with Palace fans, most will agree that confidence is key with Benteke.
On his day he can still be a formidable forward, arguably the best at the club. The issue being his day seems to come few and far between.
The other huge issue for the Eagles is the strikers £120,000 per week wages. It seems the only way Benteke will stay is if he agrees to a significant pay cut.
At 30 years old he may feel he has one big money move left in him.
Verdict: “Offer him a 2- year extension and cut his wages in half. Worth a try?”
Andros Townsend – Winger – 29 years old
The winger is one of the good guys in today’s footballing world, a huge reason why Palace fans have taken to him.
Townsend has made 161 appearances for the Eagles since joining in 2016, scoring 16 and assisting 25 goals along the way.
The England international has been a first team figure at Palace since his arrival and is a reliable contributor to the team.
He may not have set the world alight like some were expecting, but Townsend is an extremely hard worker and his given Palace fans some great individual moments through the years.
The only issue with Townsend is again the ageing factor. The winger turns 30 next summer and may not fit into Palace’s youthful plans going forward.
Verdict: “Re-sign Townsend on a 2- year deal. His wages aren’t an issue, and he would still be a contributor going forward even if that means off the bench.”
It seems Crystal Palace bosses have many head scratching decisions to be made over the next few months. Only time will tell how the team and fans alike will be affected.