Crystal Palace are lacking genuine quality beyond the starting eleven Roy Hodgson has relied upon so heavily this season, but with the January window now open for business he has reason to sweat over the futures of his star players.
Strength in depth is a luxury which Palace will have to do without in their bid to beat the drop this season. A quick scan at their substitutes bench makes for grim viewing for supporters and Hodgson and that realisation has intensified the importance of keeping the first-team together this month; refusing to succumb to the temptation of extortionate transfers bids will be paramount.
Palace have struggled for goals throughout the season so far, with the absence of a prolific centre-forward proving to be a telling problem for the club. Supporters had previously waged goal scoring concerns at the tepid Christian Benteke, however, the crux of the problem runs much deeper than the Belgium international.
Away from the spearhead options, the likes of Andros Townsend, Wilfried Zaha and Patrick Van Aanholt all provide an element of attacking dynamism which can unlock sturdy defensive units, as their stunning victory at Manchester City prior to Christmas served to demonstrate.
Despite being a full-back by trade, Van Aanholt has become one of Palace’s most decisive attacking players since he arrived at the club from Sunderland in January 2017 in a £14 million deal.
Another defensively suspect yet devastatingly effective flying full-back is one of few players at Palace who evokes feelings of anticipation in the final-third, as if a genuine opportunity is forthcoming.
Perhaps his greatest contribution at Palace arrived during the final ten games of the 2017/18 season when he notched five times to help the Eagles rise to safety.
His performances, though, have not gone unnoticed in Europe. According to a recent report from The Sun, Roma are lining up a £25 million bid for the Netherlands international as they seek to source a long-term replacement for Aleksandar Kolarov.
A club of Roma’s prestige are naturally bound to command Van Aanholt’s attention, make no mistake about it. But with Palace’s Premier League status hanging in the balance there is simply no way Hodgson can consider cashing in this month, even with the prospect of making a healthy profit staring the club in the face.
The decision to sign Van Aanholt looks incredibly shrewd nearly two years on and the interest emerging from Roma serves to underline his quality at the top level, which is exactly why Palace have to snub tempting offers in a month when the vultures are likely to start swooping in their numbers.
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