By Sam Smith
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson has admitted that it was just as important to keep the core of last season’s squad together as it was to sign new players.
The Eagles strengthened their ranks in the summer transfer window by signing four new players.
Midfielder Max Meyer and goalkeeper Vicente Guaita signed on free transfers from Schalke and Getafe respectively, while Cheikhou Kouyate arrived from West Ham and Jordan Ayew signed a loan deal from Swansea City.
The South Londoners retained the services of Wilfried Zaha despite strong interest from Chelsea, Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund. Fellow wide man Andros Townsend also remained at Selhurst Park having been a target of former club Newcastle United.
“We have enough players now. A couple of players have come back from loans – Jonny Williams and Sullay Kaikai – which further expands the squad,” Hodgson said, who has also signed a one-year contract extension until 2020.
“Most importantly of all we have kept together the group of players who did so well for us last season after such a bad start and helped us to a decent position in the league. Sometimes it’s not just a question of bringing players in, it’s also about keeping the ones you have.
“We set out to replace the players who we lost and to get particularly players with particular profiles. I must congratulate the chairman and Iain Moody – but also Doug Freedman and the people working with him. They all worked really hard to identify people and then worked really hard to bring them into the club. We’ve been very successful in doing that.”
One of Palace’s most impressive pieces of business this summer was keeping Zaha. The winger was heavily linked with moves to some of Europe’s biggest clubs, but the 71-year-old former England boss was always certain the Ivory Coast international would remain at Selhurst Park – and may even sign a new deal soon.
“I’m delighted [that Zaha is staying] and I think he will be happy too. He is such an iconic figure for us at this club but I’m afraid when you have a player of that quality, and we have several of them, there is always going to be speculation because clubs are going to want them.
“There haven’t really been too many talks about Wilfried because we decided very early on, along with the chairman and the American owners, that we don’t want to bring too many players in and don’t want to lose too many either. There were no offers that I’m particularly aware of but that doesn’t mean to say that offers weren’t there.
“A new contract for Zaha was mooted right at the end of last season. That discussion has been going on. I might get occasional updates but as far as I’m concerned that’s private business between Wilf and the club. I’m confident that there will be a solution which everyone is happy with.”