Should they stay or should they go? Our verdict on the future of Crystal Palace’s 13 players in final months of their contracts

BY SAM SMITH

This summer, there are 13 members of Crystal Palace’s first-team squad whose contracts expire at the end of June. The futures of the management staff are yet to be decided.

It is an unprecedented situation that comes with risks. Too much upheaval is expensive, can be disruptive and new signings may struggle to settle. But keep all of them and an ageing squad will continue to become sterile.

Among the 13, there are 9,461 cumulative minutes played this season. The average age is 30.6.

SAM SMITH assesses who Palace should retain and release.

WAYNE HENNESSEY
GOALKEEPER AGE: 34
2020-21 MINUTES PLAYED: 90

Jack Butland’s arrival and a four-month recovery from a quadricep injury have pushed Hennessey down to third-choice goalkeeper. The Welshman marked his return for the U23s on Monday but only has an EFL Cup appearance to his name this season. The former Wolves stopper is perhaps not given credit for being a key part of some of Palace fans’ best memories since his arrival in January 2014. If skying his penalty in the shoot-out defeat against Bournemouth is to be his final competitive contribution in a Palace shirt, it was an apt goodbye for a player who splits opinion like Marmite.
VERDICT: RELEASE

STEPHEN HENDERSON
GOALKEEPER AGE: 32
2020-21 MINUTES PLAYED: 0

Yet to make his Palace debut, despite joining in the summer of 2019. If Palace want to save some funds this summer, releasing Hennessey and Henderson and signing a young goalkeeper as third choice might be sensible. Given the relatively unblemished injury records of Vicente Guaita and Jack Butland, there would be little risk in using U23s goalkeeper Ollie Webber, on loan at Dover Athletic, as the third shot-stopper.
VERDICT: RELEASE

Patrick van Aanholt

PATRICK VAN AANHOLT
DEFENDER AGE: 30
2020-21 MINUTES PLAYED: 1,223

Van Aanholt is the likeliest to attract serious interest from other clubs. Ajax were reportedly interested in the winter transfer window and the left-back was able to begin pre-contract talks with overseas clubs in January. At fault for a couple of goals this season and Tyrick Mitchell’s emergence makes releasing the former Sunderland man risk-free.
VERDICT: RELEASE

JOEL WARD
DEFENDER AGE: 31
2020-21 MINUTES PLAYED: 995

Rotated with Nathaniel Clyne for most of the campaign, the long-serving right-back has performed well. If Palace are to go through a tricky transitional period, there is sense in keeping Ward – a consistent and seasoned defender.
VERDICT: RETAIN

NATHANIEL CLYNE
DEFENDER AGE: 29
2020-21 MINUTES PLAYED: 1,237

Has done well since rejoining the Eagles on a free transfer in the summer. His future perhaps depends on when Nathan Ferguson recovers from successive knee and thigh injuries that have kept the 20-year-out out for more than a year. The former Liverpool man can play at left-back, beneficial if Van Aanholt does depart.
VERDICT: RETAIN

MAMADOU SAKHO
DEFENDER AGE: 31
2020-21 MINUTES PLAYED: 349

Injuries have derailed the Palace career of the Frenchman, who many claim to be the club’s best-ever defender. Sakho has played the equivalent of three games in the Premier League this season, alongside one short-lived outing in both cup competitions. Palace will surely look to shift him from the wage bill.
VERDICT: RELEASE

Scott Dann

SCOTT DANN
DEFENDER AGE: 31
2020-21 MINUTES PLAYED: 1,080

Dann’s situation is like Ward’s – a player with good knowledge and experience of the league and the club. He can be beneficial for younger and more inexperienced members of the squad. He has played the second-most minutes of any Palace centre-back this season, so it would be wrong to suggest he is no longer important in a playing capacity.
VERDICT: RETAIN

GARY CAHILL
DEFENDER AGE: 35
2020-21 MINUTES PLAYED: 810

The former Chelsea man is another who is worth keeping around for his experience and consistent performances. With so many defenders out of contract this summer, it is not ideal to rip up that faction of the squad even if a couple of younger additions might be necessary.
VERDICT: RETAIN

JAMES MCCARTHY
MIDFIELDER AGE: 30
2020-21 MINUTES PLAYED: 538

The Irishman is another on this list whose worrying injury record outweighs their contribution. McCarthy has played just 149 minutes of competitive football since October. The battler added some much-needed bite in midfield when he first signed, but it’s difficult to justify an extension.
VERDICT: RELEASE

Andros Townsend

ANDROS TOWNSEND
WINGER AGE: 29
2020-21 MINUTES PLAYED: 1,489 GOALS: 1

There is a strong argument to keep wideman Townsend as valuable squad depth in an area that Palace have otherwise lacked competition. The former Tottenham man is also known to be helpful to the club’s younger players.
VERDICT: RETAIN

MICHY BATSHUAYI
STRIKER AGE: 27
2020-21 MINUTES PLAYED: 873 GOALS:1

The only loanee on the list. The Chelsea forward has not repeated the form he showed during his first temporary spell at Selhurst Park. There has been just one goal and the Belgian has found himself behind Christian Benteke, Jordan Ayew and Wilfried Zaha in the pecking order. Jean-Philippe Mateta’s arrival surely puts him even further down.
VERDICT: RELEASE

CHRISTIAN BENTEKE
STRIKER AGE: 30
2020-21 MINUTES PLAYED: 767 GOALS: 3

There was a brief period of good goalscoring form before Christmas, but Benteke has not done enough over the last few years to earn an extension. Only a potential Wilfried Zaha exit could make Palace offer a new deal to bolster attacking options.
VERDICT: RELEASE

CONNOR WICKHAM
STRIKER AGE: 27
2020-21 MINUTES PLAYED: 0

The youngest on this list, yet the likeliest to leave. Injuries have plagued him since he joined Palace nearly six years ago, and a fresh start might help. The former Sunderland man has not featured for the South Londoners since January 2020, although he has been named in the Premier League squad.
VERDICT: RELEASE

 


 

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4 thoughts on “Should they stay or should they go? Our verdict on the future of Crystal Palace’s 13 players in final months of their contracts

  • 19 February 2021 at 12:59
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    The evaluation of the 13 players up for contract is very interesting. The only fault that I see is the look at the defensive backs in Ward, Clyne, Dann, Cahill, Sakho. I see no problem with this. However, CP needs to bring in some young players on defense. It is obvious all of these players are being outsped by young quick forwards. In order for this to happen, several of these have to go.—-As for Townsend, I have always liked his ability to send passes into the box. He has had several important assists from this. Nevertheless, he is not prized by Roy because he can’t play defense. Roy can’t coach an offense and a new offensive minded coach would prize the jewel that Andros really is.

    Reply
  • 19 February 2021 at 17:04
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    Retain Ward and Dann? Oh boy. Players who have lost their value and are at best Championship standard. I would be very, very surprised if any club actually put in an offer for either one of them?

    Reply
  • 19 February 2021 at 22:10
    Permalink

    Would be helpful to show current salaries. Some might be retained at reduced pay
    Scott Dann is 34 not 31

    Reply
  • 22 February 2021 at 13:01
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    Agree with most.

    I would include Townsend in the release category. For sure he’s never going to loose that ability to drop of the shoulderl but its his loss of speed is a big concern for a team that relies heavily on counter attacking the opposition.

    Also I would add either Dann or Cahill to that list. Central defence needs refreshing. Although pandemic has exacerbated the injury woes in that department, guys in the twilight of their careers get injured quicker and take longer to fully recover. Cahill is a case in point. Below average performances this season, a stalwart in the last.

    Finally, if Benteke were to take a 50% cut in wagees then I would keep him. Though I seriously doubt that will happen.

    Reply

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