John Lundstram: The perfect fit for Crystal Palace?
(Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

After turning down several contract offers at Bramall Lane, the Liverpudlian looks set to leave Sheffield United ahead of his contract expiring next summer. The Blades will be looking to cash in on John Lundstram in January, so that he is unable to be let go for free. 

"We have offered him a very good contract that is up there with the top players at the club and he has made the decision with his agent that he doesn't want to sign, and I respect that.Chris Wilder explained to Sky Sports News.

"He is a Sheffield United player and still up for selection, but the three options are straightforward for me."

"He runs down his contract, and he has every right to do that, which is not ideal for us; we try to recoup some value for the player in the January window; or the best option for the football club is he signs the new contract - which doesn't look like it will happen and that's unfortunate."

Since The Blades return to the Premier League last season, Lundstram has netted on 5 occasions and a number of clubs are thought to be linked with his signature already.

Sky Sports have identified BurnleyCrystal Palace, and Rangers as the early front-runners for the midfielder.

With speculation growing over where the English maestro’s future lays, Eagles fans are divided over whether he would fit Roy Hodgson’s plans or not.

Would John Lundstram be a good signing for Hodgson’s Palace?

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A complete midfielder whose rise to the Premier League can’t be overlooked.

Lundstram started his career in Everton’s youth academy where he first learnt his trade in midfield. Despite his promising start to life as a Premier League youth product, the overlooked teenager failed to make a single competitive appearance in the blue half of Merseyside.

He made his first appearance for Everton’s first team in a friendly against Tranmere Rovers in 2014, but what followed was his decision to leave the club at the end of the 2014-15 season, in search of regular first team football.

His grit and determination shown in his loan spells at Football League clubs, Blackpool and Leyton Orient in 2014 and 2015, earned him a permanent contract with Oxford United in August of 2015, where he went on to make 104 appearances for the League One outfit.

His first season at Oxford saw him help his side climb to second in League Two, gaining automatic promotion to the third tier of English football. His partnership with Liam Sercombe in midfield proved to be the key to their successes, as John Lundstram took on the role of deep-lying playmaker, spreading balls both short and long to all areas of the pitch. 

The defensive minded midfield option was rewarded when, in his second and final season for the U’s, he was given captaincy following the departure of Jake Wright.

Lundstram’s attitude is something that may add something extra to Palace’s midfield as his strength in character has led the Englishman to many successes in the face of struggles and setbacks. 

Having suffered numerous injuries early in his career, Lundstram was constantly battling for a place in the first team and his struggles were only exacerbated by the lack of attention he was given at Everton. Being recently dubbed as a ‘contract rebel’, Palace fans may be concerned by his attitude, but his success story portrays his attitude in a positive light and suggests that his personality is not one to scrutinise.

Lundstram often found himself dictating the midfield for the U’s and could regularly be considered a general in the centre of the park; as he led by example, sat deep, and let others around him get in on the attacking front under manager Michael Appleton.

The tenacious playmaker saw his hard work pay off once more when Championship side, Sheffield United, snatched him in a £700,000 deal in 2017. Under Chris Wilder, Lundstram’s playing style was revolutionised from a deep-lying midfielder to a complete midfielder, given the chance to express himself in all areas of the park. 

Steam engine like runs through the midfield, followed by improved offensive involvement and willingness to help out anywhere he can, have been a key part to Lundstram’s game throughout his time at the Blades. Hodgson may feel that a missing part of his jigsaw is a player like Lundstram. 

Now a Premier League player after securing promotion in his first season in red and white, Lundstram played a pivotal role in the Blades push for European football in the 2019/20 season. Though Wilder’s men were unable to keep the pressure on the top 6 after ‘Project Restart’, they defied the odds and pulled off a season worth being proud of, Lundstram was at the heart of this.

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What would he bring to the Palace setup?

Calm and collective, adaptable and committed, offensive and defensive, John Lundstram can take Palace’s midfield to another level, with his ability to take on all kinds of roles depending on the game situation.

His defensive aptness, shown during his time at Oxford, will fit Hodgson’s philosophy and help the Eagles see out games and keep possession of the ball, whilst his more attacking and ball carrying duties shown at Sheffield United, will help break deadlocks in cagey contests. 

As captain of the club, Luka Milivojevic would remain the main man in the midfield for Palace, his short passes and command of the centre of play would be complemented by a player of Lundstram’s ability.

His inch perfect passes from long range can provide perfect balance in a midfield run by short passing. Lundstram has seen success with his capacity to be in the right place at the right time to make a difference, whether that be in the first third or the final third. 

The former Under-20 England international is a midfielder who has the personality traits to suit Palace’s iron-willed character, he has everything that it takes to become a salient contributor to Hodgson’s distinct tactics. 

Both Jairo Riedewald and Max Meyer are out of contract in the summer and if they are to leave the club, it would open up the case for Lundstram to make the move to South London. The out of contract pair will be eager to impress over the winter period to show they can still feature in the Eagles line-up. 

If the Eagles are able to get Lundstram on a free, it would be a shrewd bit of business from the Londoners and, with James McArthur being 33-years-old, it is worth a thought to recruit players who are in their prime stages of their careers. 

No doubt, the Eagles will face tough competition in the race for the hardworking playmaker, but if they do pull it off it will be a signing who is capable of being a fan favourite and making a real difference.

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