What now for Palace at right-back? Here's @BlendedDadUK with some options the Eagles should go for.
I suppose it was inevitable. We all knew it deep down. When a talent bursts on to the scene and puts in consistently brilliant performances in the top league in the world, it is only a matter of time before the big boys come calling. Wan-Bissaka, our Croydon born sensation, made it impossible for the best clubs in Europe to ignore him.
As a result, the New Addington lad will be playing at Old Trafford next season, as United desperately find a formula to break into the upper echelons of the Premier League. Meanwhile, we’re left with close to £50m to play with for a full-back who only got his chance to play with the first team due to a freak injury list back in late February, 2018.
Like many, I was dubious about the initial reports of United interest in AWB. He had only played one full season and £50m just seemed like a ridiculous amount of cash for a boy who is still learning his trade. I started to believe there was real truth to the rumours after AWB had a nightmare against France U21s in The European Championships. I had never seen Wan-Bissaka play so badly. His positioning was poor, he kept making bad decisions and he capped off the evening by scoring a disastrous own goal. Something was clearly up with our boy. His head was elsewhere.
When the transfer was finally confirmed the majority of Palace fans wished AWB well. A touching thanks from the player circulated social media and there was a sense that both United and Palace had done well out of the deal. It’s sad we will never see him again in a Palace shirt, or sing probably the best chant we’ve created for a player since the classic Yohan Cabaye song, but it is time to move on and consider who would be an ideal replacement. There are options out there. Here are my top 5.
Max Aarons – Norwich City
Similar to our AWB (he’s not “our AWB” anymore, I need to get over this) Aarons lit up Carrow Road in his first full season as a pro. The Hammersmith born 19 year-old became a firm fan favourite with consistently brilliant performances. His meteoric rise saw him awarded the 2018–19 EFL Young Player of the Season and it is expected he will go on to achieve lots in the game. Norwich’s promotion means they won’t be in any rush to sell and it will take a huge bid to turn their heads.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah – Manchester United
Remember this lad? It’s fair to say he didn’t particularly rip up any trees when on loan to us, but it was difficult for this young man to shine after being brought to the club by Frank De Boer, a manager who was so clearly out of his depth it was embarrassing. Many would say Fosu-Mensah is a centre back, but in truth he has the quality and athleticism to play at full back. Didn’t particularly shine at Fulham, but at the right price it could be worth a look.
Diogo Dalot – Manchester United
Another Manchester United youngster. Dalot joined United from Porto last season for £19m after Jose Mourinho saw great potential in his fellow countryman. Still rated at United, despite the purchase of AWB, he may well be a player who would benefit with a season-long loan at Selhurst.
Kyle Walker-Peters – Tottenham
Walker-Peters is another player who may benefit from a season-long loan away from his current employers. Quick, powerful and a player who has an eye for an assist, Walker-Peters is at a stage in his career where he needs regular football to realise his true potential. We have the money to purchase him outright I’d imagine, but Spurs would be reluctant to see him leave on a permanent deal.
Nathaniel Clyne – Liverpool
My personal favourite and not merely because he is “ex-Palace”. Clyne has had an unfortunate couple of seasons. When he joined Liverpool he was gaining many plaudits and was on the verge of being England’s first-choice right-back. Injury and the emergence of the outstanding Trent Alexander Arnold, meant our former academy product was forced out the team, leaving to go on loan to Bournemouth towards the end of the season. He wasn’t particularly outstanding down on the coast and clearly needs a fresh start elsewhere. If Clyne comes back to Palace, keeps his head focused on developing his game (rather than being in the media for reasons other than football) there is no doubt he could be a more than capable replacement for AWB. At 28 he’d be able to fill the role for a couple of seasons before we look for a younger replacement.
Either way, there are full backs out there who are available and decent quality. One thing is for sure, we’d struggle to ever get an AWB again. He truly was a class act. But what he ended up representing could be invaluable. Fellow youngsters in the academy will look at what AWB achieved and dare to dream. Maybe listing alternatives of who to buy is a waste of time. AWB proved there could be sheer quality right under our noses; we just need to put our faith in them and give them a chance.