Changing Of The Guard Sees Some Fan Favourites Head For Pastures New
This summer has seen one of the more significant changes to the squad of players at Selhurst Park than for some time.
Contracts have come to an end for Damien Delaney, Yohan Cabaye, Bakary Sako and Chung-yong Lee. Each of them have contributed in their own way, some more than others of course but that will always be the case.
South Korean Lee was always a likeable character and will always be known for that goal at Stoke City to secure all three points late on. Problem is, other than the back pass at Burnley that contributed to the goal that saw Frank de Boer sacked, that is probably it. Harsh, but fair.
As for Bakary Sako, he never really fulfilled any of the form that saw the Eagles buy him from Wolverhampton Wanderers. Only in the final year of his contract did we see anything close to what Palace needed from him.
That spell of scintilating form at a time when the club were struggling for players due to an injury crisis, Sako stepped up when we needed him to until a broken ankle ended his season. That in itself probably summed up his time in South London and while we believe he has been offered a new contract, the search for first team football sees him trying his luck elsewhere.
What can be said of the inimitable Frenchman? While we did not see the kind of form that graced St James’ Park and earned him a move to Paris Saint Germain, Cabaye still oozed class. A player that let the ball do the work while his mind worked on where it would be going. For many, the signing of Cabaye was on a similar level to that fans experienced when the club announced that Attilio Lombardo had joined in 1997.
Still, there are too many Cabaye moments that fans will remember to mention and while he will not be irreplacable, he will be difficult to replace if that makes sense, particularly in the current inflated market. You have to think the club have missed out on retaining his services for another year.
Last, and by no means least, Damien Delaney. A player that has given blood, sweat and tears for the red and blue and a real fans favourite.
Little was expected of the Irishman when he joined on a short term deal following a terminated contract with Ipswich. He had become completely disillusioned with the game and was rumoured to be heading to the USA or retirement. His time in South London has been nothing less than sensational, recruiting a player looking likely to hit the scrapheap, but instead ending the first season with the club at Wembley being promoted to the Premier League through the play offs.
There are several images that Delaney will be remembered for but one of the favourites has to be him in tears on the Wembley steps being consoled by fellow defender Peter Ramage. It had been quite an incredible turnaround in his career and while many expected him to be found wanting in the top division, that simply was not the case.
Every fan will have their favourites, but this summer, we have lost two extremely popular players that will be remembered for years to come. We wish them well for the rest of their careers and TEB will keep an eye on them all with interest.
With such players leaving, the question is around replacements in what is an extremeley difficult market. While Roy Hodgson has a competitive first eleven to choose from, squad players are key before embarking on a long season at the top level.
Several academy players have been handed professional contracts and with the likes of Jonny Williams still around looking to make an impact as well as Sullay KaiKai, Nya Kirby and Jason Lokilo no doubt itching to follow in the footsteps of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, there could be a shift in the make up of the squad for this coming season.