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Crystal Palace transfers: Is Oliver Glasner planning for life without key quartet?

Crystal Palace transfers: Is Glasner planning for life without key quartet?
© Reuters
Crystal Palace are making some early moves ahead of the summer transfer window, but are they building a squad around their in-demand stars or planning for life without them?

Crystal Palace seemed to hit a bit of a rut towards the end of Roy Hodgson's reign and they were in danger of slipping into the relegation picture following a run of just three wins in 17 Premier League games.

The Selhurst Park faithful were disillusioned and concerned about the club's direction, emphasised by several banners displayed at home and away fixtures attacking the Eagles owners.

However, those concerns quickly evaporated following the arrival of Oliver Glasner in mid-February. The Austrian tactician has made a huge impact in his first 13 games in charge, not only galvanising the club's supporters, but also instilling a tried-and-tested playing style, used throughout his managerial career, that his Palace players have adjusted to in a matter of months.

Palace were languishing in 16th place and just five points above the relegation zone when Glasner took charge, but a run of six wins and one draw in their final seven matches - scoring 21 goals in the process - helped the Eagles soar into the top 10, finishing 23 points clear of the bottom three.

The 49-year-old steered his new side to an impressive 1-0 triumph at Liverpool before they beat the likes of Newcastle United, Manchester United and Aston Villa, ending the 2023-24 season on a high with a thumping 5-0 home victory over the latter.

Indeed, goals were flying in at Selhurst Park towards the backend of the campaign, largely thanks to the electric form of attacking trio Jean-Philippe Mateta, Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise.

Crystal Palace's Michael Olise celebrates scoring their first goal on May 6, 2024© Reuters

Eze, Olise, Guehi, Wharton all in demand

Eze and Olise, in particular, have been heavily linked with big-money moves away from Palace - the former has allegedly attracted interest from Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, while reports have claimed that the latter is wanted by Arsenal, Man United, Chelsea and Aston Villa.

A host of top Premier League clubs have also been credited with an interest in Palace defender Marc Guehi, another who has shown his quality on a consistent basis during his time at Selhurst Park. The 23-year-old is one of four Eagles players that have been selected in England's provisional squad for Euro 2024 along with Eze, goalkeeper Dean Henderson and January signing Adam Wharton.

After 18 months in the Championship with Blackburn Rovers, Wharton has quickly established himself as a first-team regular at Palace and is now said to be on the radar of German giants Bayern Munich.

The carrot of playing at a higher level and in European competition is undoubtedly alluring, but Glasner stated a few weeks ago that he is confident that both Eze and Olise will remain at Palace this summer, as the pair have been shown the "journey we want to ride together". The same applies for Guehi and Wharton as the club endeavours to build on the short-term success that they have had in recent months.

However, money talks more often than not in football and Palace's recent transfer activity ahead of the 2024-25 campaign can be viewed in one of two ways - either they are building a squad around the in-demand star names they wish to keep, or they are planning for life without them.

Are Crystal Palace signing additions or successors?

Real Betis' Chadi Riad pictured on September 16, 2023© Reuters

Amid speculation of potential departures, Palace are allegedly closing in on two summer signings in the form of centre-back Chadi Riad and playmaker Daichi Kamada.

Multiple reports, including one from The Athletic, claim that 20-year-old Riad has completed a medical ahead of his proposed transfer to Palace worth in the region of £15m.

Riad, who made 30 appearances on loan at Real Betis from Barcelona last season, is expected to put pen to paper on a five-year contract and finalise his move to the Eagles after representing Morocco in World Cup qualifiers against Zambia on June 7 and Congo four days later.

The addition of Riad is one that Palace fans can get excited about, but it raises concerns about the future of Guehi, who also likes to play as a left-sided central defender.

Palace are believed to be conscious that they may have to part ways with Guehi - valued at around £55m - this summer amid the interest in his services and the fact that he has only two years remaining on his contract.

Lazio's Daichi Kamada celebrates scoring their first goal on May 19, 2024© Reuters

Meanwhile, transfer expert Fabrizio Romano claims that Palace are on the verge of signing Japan international Kamada on a free transfer from Lazio.

The 27-year-old is out of contract in the summer and negotiations with Lazio over a new deal are said to have collapsed after both parties failed to reach an agreement over the insertion of a release clause.

Palace have since opened talks with Kamada's entourage and are close to reaching a verbal agreement with the player, who worked under Glasner during their time together at Eintracht Frankfurt where they won the Europa League in 2022.

Kamada notched up 73 goal contributions in 179 appearances during a six-year spell at Frankfurt before joining Lazio last summer. He is competent operating in a variety of attacking positions, but has predominantly played in an advanced central role in behind the striker, receiving the ball between the lines on the half-turn to create chances for his teammates.

There are similarities to Kamada's game and the way that Glasner has instructed both Eze and Olise to operate in his new Palace setup. Kamada could be an adequate replacement should either Eze or Olise depart, something that the Eagles hierarchy are sure to have considered due to the growing interest in both players. Then again, if Palace are successful in keeping hold of the star duo, two injury-prone players in recent years, the signing of Kamada can be viewed as a valuable addition to bolster their attacking options.

Sunderland's Jobe Bellingham on October 7, 2023© Reuters

Crystal Palace also interested in Jobe Bellingham

Kamada is not the only attacking midfielder on Palace's radar, as Fabrizio Romano reports that the Eagles are in talks with Sunderland over the signing of Jobe Bellingham, who has been identified as one of their primary summer targets.

Both Glasner and sporting director Dougie Freedman are said to be working hard to convince 18-year-old Bellingham, younger brother of Real Madrid sensation Jude, to move to Selhurst Park, although they face competition from Brentford for his signature.

Under the guidance of Freedman, Palace have frequently delved into the EFL market to recruit highly-rated youngsters, most notably Eze, Olise and Wharton in recent years, and Bellingham is the latest name who fits that profile, even though he only signed a new long-term contract with Sunderland last year.

Palace fans should not be concerned about Wharton's future if Bellingham arrives, as the Black Cats teenager has enjoyed the majority of his success playing as a number 10 or as a centre-forward, scoring seven goals in 45 second-tier matches last season. Wharton, meanwhile, has thrived dictating play from a deep-lying midfield position since joining Palace.

Instead, Bellingham could be viewed as a replacement for either Eze or Olise and play as one of two advanced midfielders in behind a central striker such as Mateta.

Who else have Crystal Palace been linked with?

Juventus' Filip Kostic celebrates scoring their first goal on March 19, 2023© Reuters

At the beginning of May, reports emerged claiming that Glasner would be interested in reuniting with former Frankfurt winger Filip Kostic at Crystal Palace.

The Serbian currently plies his trade with Juventus where he made 33 appearances as a left-flanker last season, but it is understood that the Italian giants are open to offers for the 31-year-old this summer.

Kostic, who had great success with Glasner at Frankfurt, could be signed by Palace to provide competition for Tyrick Mitchell at left wing-back, but he is also capable of playing further forward in a similar role to Eze and Olise.

Palace have also been linked with another versatile midfielder in the form of Arsenal's Emile Smith Rowe, who is facing an uncertain future with the Gunners having fallen down the pecking order at the Emirates Stadium.

CaughtOffside claim that the Eagles are leading the race for the signature of 23-year-old Smith Rowe, who is valued at around £40m and has also attracted interest from Aston Villa, Everton and West Ham United.

Meanwhile, Palace appear to have suffered a blow in their pursuit of Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, as LondonWorld claims that French side Lyon have jumped ahead of the Eagles in the race to sign the Nigerian on a free transfer.

What can we take from Crystal Palace's early transfer business?

Crystal Palace's Eberechi Eze shakes hands with manager Oliver Glasner after being substituted on March 2, 2024© Reuters

There has been a drastic shift in ambition at Palace since the turn of the year and after making two shrewd winter-window acquisitions in Wharton and right-back Daniel Munoz, the Eagles are showing no signs of resting on their laurels and are keen to get a few deals over the line before the summer transfer window officially opens on June 14.

Palace have had success recruiting younger players that have developed into first-team stars, so it comes as no surprise to see them linked with two highly-rated prospects in the form of Riad and Bellingham. The potential addition of Kamada, and also Kostic, would also make sense given that they are two trusted and experienced players that have previously worked under Glasner.

Questions marks remain, however, over whether Palace intend to sign these players to initially act as cover for current first-team stars, or for them to make an immediate impact as replacements for those potentially heading for the exit door.

From the outside looking in, it seems as if Palace are preparing for all eventualities, assembling a squad strong enough to build on their early success under Glasner, but one that they hope can continue to perform at a consistent level should a few star names ultimately decide to seeks pastures new.

While the possibility of Wharton leaving Selhurst Park this summer is unlikely at this stage, considering that he has only just joined on a long-term contract, the same cannot be said about Eze, Olise and Guehi. A successful summer transfer window for Palace would see the trio stay put, but that will be a tall order, given the growing interest from European clubs in their services, and the departure of at least one of those seems probable.

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Crystal Palace manager Oliver Glasner before the match on February 24, 2024
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