Despite being one of the most active clubs in the summer transfer window, Crystal Palace are still in a major period of transition. Fans have grown used to players coming and going, but the summer of 2021 seen huge squad churn. Precious few players stuck around, and a cadre of new signings arrived. While the likes of Marc Guehi and Odsonne Edouard offer great long-term value for the club, several other arrivals might offer a more short-term approach.
Indeed, a new report from the Sustainable Squad Management Index has found that Palace have the least sustainable squad in the top-flight. This looks to evaluate squads based on the average age of the team, the length of contract, and the average duration that each player stays at their current club. This gives a rough idea of how sustainable a current squad is – and for Palace the numbers are not exactly positive.
The team has been linked with a host of new signings, too, and it is believed that they will look to bring in new signings regardless. Still, with so many players either with short-term histories at previous clubs or with precious little time left on their contracts, it might be tough for Palace to build a clear image from 2021-22 to beyond.
This is a major issue for the club, as they look to build a clear identity under Patrick Vieira. With so many players set to either move on or with a penchant for being sold, though, building a clear continuous image might prove a huge undertaking for the club.
Palace were noted to have an average rating of 27.8, which puts them at the bottom of the new SSM index. They also found that the team was in the bottom half – but not the bottom three – for all three major metrics. The average age of 28, and the average length of stay of 2.8 years, was not in the bottom third for any metric. However, the combination of their metric meant that Palace finished comfortably behind Watford, who has a rating of 29.2.
What does this mean?
While such metrics are nothing more than a guide, it does show that Palace fans should get used to the squad churn of the previous summer. Players coming and going all the time is a hard thing to deal with for any coach. Given the clubs inability to make European football or win trophies, though, keeping players who are performing at a high level in the top flight can become an increasingly deep challenge.
For that reason, then, it should be interesting to note that many Palace fans expect this trend to continue. Bringing in a coaching development expert like Vieira means that the players will improve, but the by-product is that they will be likely sold.
These factors, then, play a key role in helping to determine where Palace are likely to be in the medium-term. Though things feel good with the current squad, all factors point to more change to come in both the January window and ahead of the next season.