Twelve out of contract players, an ageing defence and a wantaway striker - Patrick Vieira's arrival at SE25 is riddled with challenges
(Photo by YANN COATSALIOU/Getty Images)

Although Crystal Palace have settled comfortably in the Premier League table for nine consecutive seasons, Patrick Vieira’s takeover will be no easy feat.

The appointment of the former Arsenal midfielder comes amidst a mass of out of contract players. Most notably, Jeffrey Schlupp, Joel Ward, Patrick Van Aanholt and Andros Townsend – who all played at least 22 games each last season – are amongst the 12 stars who are yet to be handed a new deal.

Christian Benteke, who has remained a firm favourite in the squad for five years, signed a two-year contract extension in June – much to the relief of many Palace supporters.

  • Zaha to stay or go?

The Eagles' top goal scorer last season, Wilfred Zaha, has once again expressed his wish to depart Selhurst Park. The Ivorian forward has previously been linked with Arsenal and Manchester United, and more recently, rumours have circulated over a move to Everton.

Whilst it is still unclear exactly how much Palace would be willing to sell Zaha for, it is suggested that around £35m may trigger negotiations. In previous transfer windows, his sizeable price tag has deterred suitors. However, his eagerness to leave the club could see him sold for much less this time around.

Many of the Eagles' ageing defenders are out of contract, which could see Vieira overhaul to make way for the club’s younger and fresher players or for a potential transfer.

The likes of Mamadou Sakho, Gary Cahill, Joel Ward and Scott Dann have not yet been offered a new contract meaning some of them are likely to exit Selhurst Park.

To add to Vieira’s list of challenges as the upcoming season fast approaches, Eberechi Eze – who signed for the club from QPR last year – is expected to be out for six months following a ruptured Achilles during training in May.

The English midfielder earned four goals and six assists for the south London side and may prove a critical part of Vieira’s plans if Zaha is to leave.

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