This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Out of all the players in Crystal Palace’s squad, just four of them are under the age of 28.
26-year-old Wilfried Zaha, 24-year-old Max Meyer, 26-year-old Jeffrey Schlupp and the injury-stricken Connor Wickham – also aged 26 – are the players who fit into the aforementioned category – on-loan midfielder Victor Camarasa is 25, but isn’t technically a Palace player.
That is particularly concerning.
In a few years time, the core of Palace’s squad will be outdated and in dire need of a revamp, something that chairman Steve Parish and Sporting Director Dougie Freedman are somewhat aware of, at least.
The Athletic’s Dominic Fifield wrote that the pair are looking to target players in their early 20s with one eye on the future, with the snippet of information embedded in this article here.
“The sporting director, Dougie Freedman, and chairman, Steve Parish, were also acutely aware of the relatively hefty average age of the squad. There is a desire to bring in more players in their early 20s with an eye to the future.”
Their transfer vision for the club makes sense given the aforesaid, although there is another worrying stat that promotes their plans even more.
Prospect Watch, a site that keeps tabs on U23 players, revealed on their Twitter account that the south London side have handed the least amount of minutes to players who are 23 or under this season.
Minutes given to players aged 23-years-old or younger in the Football League. pic.twitter.com/ke6npJ8DyH
— Prospect Watch (@prospectwatch1) October 9, 2019
Should Palace let Zaha leave in January?
Palace have given just 156 minutes worth of playing time to players who slot into that category, and are in fact the second-worst side throughout the entire Football League for giving chances to players who are 23 or younger – only Championship side Sheffield Wednesday have given less minutes to such players, with 0 to their name.
If anything, this only reinforces and promotes Parish and Freedman’s transfer vision for the club.
While things are going well right now with Palace sat 6th in the Premier League, one can’t help but feel that there is an alarming lack of sustainability surrounding the playing staff, a concern that can only be backed up by Prospect Watch’s revelation.
A silver lining, at least, is that Parish and Freedman are seemingly aware of it and ready to fix it.
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