This article forms part of our Profit Players feature series, which is where Football Transfer Tavern takes a look at how well a player has fared since being signed or sold, using statistical figures and statements from pundits to prove how good of a deal the club managed to achieve.
There was only one natural right-back in the Crystal Palace squad after Aaron Wan-Bissaka departed, a certain Joel Ward. The 29-year-old only featured seven times in the league in the 2018/19 season thanks to the former’s terrific form, so perhaps the idea of him replacing a man who had just been sold for big money seemed a little optimistic.
Still, eight league games on and Palace haven’t buckled without the youngster. In fact, the Eagles have started terrifically, recording 14 points from their opening eight matches – winning four, drawing two and losing two.
Ward was brought to the club for just £400k (per the club’s official website, via Web Archive) back in 2012 and has since been on quite the ride with the Eagles. In his first season, he was a vital figure in the club’s surprise promotion from the Championship, he has represented the club in an FA Cup Final, and is also in the history books as Palace’s most ever capped Premier League player.
His commitment to the club hasn’t gone unnoticed. This time last week, chairman Steve Parish said that the former Portsmouth man epitomises everything about the club.
The Palace supremo said (via Football.London): “Joel Ward to me epitomises everything we have got in the football club. You can spend £45m on a striker, or £42m on a left-sided player, or £27m on a right-sided player, as it was at the weekend [against West Ham], but Joel Ward was £400,000 from Portsmouth.
“And is there a better servant to the club at the moment?
“People talk about giving 100 per cent, and has anyone ever seen Joel Ward give anything other than everything? To me, he is absolutely everything about Crystal Palace.”
Frankly, it’s hard to argue with Parish.
Ward stayed true to Palace despite being put on the back-burner for a year, coming up trumps again when his team has needed him. It could have been very easy for the player to throw his toys out of the pram and leave the club after he was made the second choice pretty much instantly after Wan-Bissaka had to step up for him when he was injured during the 17/18 season.
Now in his eighth year at the club, Joel Ward is doing what Joel Ward does: churning out consistent performances while putting his body on the line every week. So far this campaign, he has been one of the better players at the club without really standing out. Indeed, he has played every league game this season for Palace with the sixth-highest average rating in the whole squad (6.88, according to WhoScored), as well as the most amount of tackles per game and interceptions per game, with 2.9 and 2.3 respectively.
Considering £400k has earned Palace 226 appearances over eight seasons, there is no doubt that Palace will feel like they have got their money’s worth.
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