Could Pape Souare be on his way out of Crystal Palace in January?
Background photo: Jeff Warder, CC BY-SA 3.0
Pape Souare was left out of the matchday squad in Crystal Palace’s 1-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on November 10 and hasn’t featured in the Premier League for the Eagles since their opening game of the season. The left back's future at Selhurst Park looks uncertain as a result, and the likelihood of a January departure is very high.
Despite not making the squad in Palace’s last 11 league outings, Souare’s absence doesn’t appear to injury-related. Roy Hodgson has given him rare outings in the EFL Cup against West Bromwich Albion on September 25 and against Middlesbrough on October 31 but isn’t willing to give him game time in the Premier League.
Car accident changed the trajectory of his career
Souare joined Palace in February 2015 and featured in nine of their last 15 league games of that season. He was a regular in 2015/16, making 34 appearances in the top-flight, but a car crash just four months after the campaign came to a close would change the course of his career.
As per the Guardian, he was involved in a motorway collision that left him with a broken jaw and broken leg after being trapped in his own vehicle due to the crushed metal. It’s been a long road to recovery, but a lot has changed in the two years Souare has been out for.
Palace signed two left-backs in January 2017 to make up for his absence and it’s left the defender with a mountain to climb to get himself back in favour.
Third in the pecking order under Hodgson
There’s stiff competition at left-back for Palace, with 2017-signings Patrick van Aanholt and Jeffrey Schlupp both ahead of Souare in the pecking order this season. Van Aanholt has started every Premier League game under Hodgson while Schlupp has played in a variety of roles on the left-flank.
There’s seemingly no need for Souare in the squad unless one of the two players pick up an injury. The 28-year-old has been a good servant to Palace, making 62 appearances in all competitions since his 2015-move from LOSC Lille, but it appears his time in South London could be coming to an end.
To sell or not to sell in January
Palace have a big decision to make on Souare in January. The defender is out of contract next summer and will be able to negotiate pre-contract deals with foreign clubs when the winter transfer window opens. If Souare doesn’t put pen to paper on a contract extension, he’ll be free to leave Palace at the end of the season.
It’s unlikely he’ll remain Selhurst Park past next summer with no talk of a new deal, so Palace will have a choice to make whether they cash in on the Senegalese international. As per the Daily Mail, Souare cost the Eagles around £3.5m three years ago and agreed a £30k-per-week contract at the time. Palace would want some return for the £7.5m they’ve invested so far.
With Souare making only 11 appearances in all competitions in the last two years, he might struggle for top-flight suitors in January. There's every chance Palace are sentimental and keep him until his contract expires, giving him a send-off in front of supporters at the end of the season.
Nevertheless, it’s clear Hodgson feels he’s lost a step since the accident and believes he has better options in the squad.