A downward spiral of a 2016 saw Crystal Palace capitulate from European contenders pre-Christmas to relegation flirters by spring.
An FA Cup final appearance provided a silver lining on what would’ve been an otherwise underwhelming campaign, but with the talent available to boss Alan Pardew, a top-half finish must be the target for 2016/17.
Obviously, given the season’s end, the Eagles’ squad requires a few tweaks in order to achieve it. Here’s how Pardew should go about his summer business:
Sign – Benjamin Moukandjo
Despite representing Lorient, one of the weaker outfits in Ligue 1, the Cameroonian international averaged a goal every other start last term, accounting for almost 28% of his team’s league goals.
He’s an affordable line-leading option for a club who lack in firepower, with only one rival outside of France’s top-four teams bagging more often last time around.
Sell – Wilfried Zaha
Zaha savoured something of a renaissance last season, part-repairing a reputation heavily tarnished during a nightmare spell at Manchester United.
Yet for all the plaudits he received, he scored just two goals and, more worryingly, assisted one fewer in 34 Premier League appearances.
It’s a poor return masked by praise received for his ability to carry the ball and lightning pace. He averaged a commendable 3.7 dribbles per match, but his chronic lack of end product must take some responsibility for Palace’s shortcomings in the final third.
Keep – Dwight Gayle
The opening of a transfer window tends to be cause for Palace’s decision makers to tell Gayle he’s not wanted, but for a team that so frequently struggles for goals, axing a sharpshooter with his strike rate seems foolhardy.
His three league goals scored last term made him the Eagles’ second highest top-tier scorer, but unlike Connor Wickham, Yohan Cabaye, Yannick Bolasie and Scott Dann (who shared most lethal marksman honours with five strikes apiece), Gayle achieved his tally in just eight starts, while his contemporaries required at least 23.
Given the goals-to-game ratio of his colleagues, the former Dagenham & Redbridge striker is surely worth keeping around as an understudy, if nothing else.