Back when we were waiting on the Premier League to return I began the Fantasy Arsenal series. A look at each club from the bottom up, highlighting five players, and voting on which option the readers thought would be the best value / fit for the Gunners based on need and price. Luckily for us (and not for them) the bottom six we covered already, remained the bottom six. As a reminder, we had to pick someone from each club, no passes.
We restart the series with a look at nearby neighbors Crystal Palace. The Eagles finished in 14th place on 43 points, nine clear of the drop, but 11 behind the top half of the table. They’ll be happy to remain in the Premier League, but it was a forgettable season for Palace. With one of their key players linked with a move away yet again, who would be the best fit/value for Arsenal to make a swoop for?
This was easily the hardest of the series so far. Palace struggled to score goals this year and they don’t have a many young, interesting players. Looking at these choices you wonder how exactly they avoided the relegation battle.
Projected Value: $5 million
Argument For: Yes, that’s right, a 32-year-old midfielder is making a top five, that’s how dire the options were. McArthur tied the team lead in assists with three, passes into the final third, tackles and interceptions. He had the most actions that led to goals for a struggling offensive team. With nearly 300 Premier League appearances, he has plenty of experience and clearly was one of the pieces that helped keep Crystal Palace away from the danger zone this year. A starter for Arsenal? No. A progressive piece to move forward Arteta’s project? No. But as a usable backup for Xhaka, to feature in early Cup matches and the Europa League - for just $5m? Potentially.
Projected Value: $22 million
Argument For: The younger, more expensive version of McArthur. Although younger is in relative terms for this Palace squad. He captained the side, bagging three goals and an assist as he led the squad in completing long passes, often looking for Zaha or Ayew on the break. He would be a workable option as a central defensive mid in a 4-3-3, but with Xhaka and Torriera on the squad, Arsenal wouldn’t have need to spend over $20m on yet another option for that role. If Xhaka had exited in the winter transfer window and the Gunners were looking for a short term fix while focusing on other transfer needs, Milivojevic could easily work in this role.
Projected Value: $10 million
Argument For: At 27, Schlupp averaged a goal or assist every three matches for Palace this season. Closing in one 150 top flight appearances, he would be a versatile option on the left hand side, much in the likes of Maitland-Niles the past two seasons. He can play left-back, left midfielder and left winger, which could fit in well for a 4-3-3 or 3-4-3 depth chart. A move that would provide depth for Tierney at LB and could allow Kolasinac to move on. This would give Arteta the option of Tierney-Schlupp-Saka along the left (if Auba was up top). Considering the options at Palace, is he the most valuable and usable?
Patrick van Aanholt
Projected Value: $10 million
Argument For: Two CBs and two left sided players so far. Have I mentioned how limited this roster is? Does Arsenal need a left-back? No, Kieran Tierney has been great. Would van Aanholt be an upgrade over Sead Kolasinac as a better 2nd LB for the Cups and Europa? Probably. Patrick scored three goals and had two assists, while leading Palace in passes completed, and progressive passes. With Kolasinac valued at $17m, this could be a solid bit of business for Arsenal that covers the next few seasons.
Projected Value: $48 million
Argument For: The leading candidate a year ago, but is he now? Zaha is clearly the most talented player at Palace. Apologies Jordan Ayew who let the club in goals this season, but I didn’t see a way Arsenal went for him at 27 when they have Lacazette, Aubameyang, Martinelli, & Nketiah, not to mention several promising academy players. With 200+ Premier League appearances, four goals and three assists this season, Zaha straddles being the best player on a mid table team and a contributor at a top-six side. Perhaps he would flourish more with a move to another major European league. Having spent a record fee on Pepe, Reiss Nelson on the books, and links to Willian on a free, Arsenal seem like a poor next location for both the player and club at the moment.
Which Crystal Palace player would you buy?
This poll is closed
Patrick van Aanholt
There isn’t a perfect fit for Arsenal on Palace’s roster when considering cost, value, need and experience. But keeping with the rules of this activity, we have to make a move for one player from each Premier League club. What’s your argument for one of the above, or someone else in Palace’s squad?