Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace must seek to replace linked-away Townsend with exciting £18m-rated ace

Crystal Palace supporters in the Transfer Tavern are eagerly anticipating the 2018/19 Premier League season, what with their team hopeful of building upon a solid 11th place finish last time round.

Roy Hodgson’s side deserve immense credit for avoiding relegation last season having lost each of their opening seven games, so to finish 11th and 11 points clear of danger is testament to the job the former England boss did when drafted in as Frank de Boer’s replacement early in the campaign. However, our resident Eagles fans will be hoping they can challenge for a top half finish this time round, although it’s clear that signings will be needed over the summer for that to happen.

Yet one man who could be on his way out of Selhurst Park this summer is winger Andros Townsend, with recent reports linking him with a return to Newcastle United.

As such, Palace must be in the market to replace the linked-away star, with Leicester City’s exciting £18 million-rated ace Demarai Gray (as per Transfermarkt) the man they must turn to.

Ultimately, 26-year-old Townsend enjoyed a reasonably solid campaign at Palace last season in netting two goals and laying on nine assists for Hodgson’s side, which are certainly contributions that will need replacing going forward into the 2018/19 season.

And while England Under-21 international Gray didn’t quite live up to expectations at Leicester last term, there is no doubting that he has the talent and indeed the potential to fill Townsend’s shoes at Selhurst Park.

The 21-year-old managed just four goals and four assists in all competitions for the Foxes last time round and was sometimes overlooked by Claude Puel given his lack of direct contributions, although the occasional brilliant performance must be of interest to Hodgson as he likely seeks a Townsend replacement.

The way Gray dismantled Everton in a 2-0 victory for Leicester back in October underlined exactly what the Englishman can do in the final third of the pitch, with the 21-year-old terrorising the Toffees backline down the right-hand side to inspire Puel’s men to all three points.

Yes, Gray is quite inconsistent at present and will certainly need to take a leave out of Wilfried Zaha’s books in a bid to become the top player his potential suggests he can be, but the ingredients are there for the 21-year-old to go on and be that quality forward player.

And with Puel seemingly unconvinced by the winger, given he started just 17 times in the Premier League last season, it doesn’t look like he’s going to get that regular chance at Leicester – yet he could at Palace if Townsend leaves.

And given how consistently effective Zaha has become since returning to Selhurst Park, Hodgson may well be able to unlock Gray’s potential at Palace as well, which is why the Eagles must seek to replace Townsend with the 21-year-old this summer.

Palace fans… what do you think? Let us know!

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