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Sport: Nketiah and van de Beek sign, Benteke sold - Crystal Palace's best and worst case deadline day

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It was initially thought that this January would be a very quiet one for Crystal Palace, with relatively little to zero business even being suggested.

The Eagles had a brilliant summer window reshaping their squad, spending just over £60million bringing in new talent for the season ahead.

Manager Patrick Vieira said at the end of August that he was generally happy with his squad for the time being, though things changed for the club during the festive period.

Positive Covid cases within the playing squad meant the Eagles had to field weakened sides against Spurs on Boxing Day and Norwich two days later, while their New Year's Day fixture against West Ham also saw players miss out due to the virus.

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The sudden nature of the outbreak forced Patrick Vieira - who himself contracted Covid and had to isolate over Christmas - to change his stance on the January window and instead announce he was looking to bring new players into the fold to help with his squad management.

He told reporters last week: "We will try to improve the squad, this is a difficult period to find the right players.

"We are working and trying to improve and if we can bring a couple of players in that will be good for the squad, if not we will keep trying to improve players individually so that we can be a bit stronger collectively."

With that in mind, we take you through what would be the best and worst-case scenario for Crystal Palace come deadline day next Monday.

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Best case

Palace aren't going to be able to afford to break the bank this window, nor do they desperately need to. But there are still some areas of the team that could do with strengthening.

The first deal that would be good for the club to get over the line would be forward player Eddie Nketiah from Arsenal. Palace were reportedly in talks with the Gunners at the start of the window for the 22-year-old but those ended when Mikel Arteta publicly announced he would be staying.

That hasn't ended rumours continuing to link Nketiah with a move to south London in this window, with former Eagles boss Roy Hodgson saying he'd be the perfect fit for Vieira's side were he to join.

"I can imagine him being exactly the type of player that Patrick Vieira would like because he'd know a lot about him," he told Sky Sports earlier this month.

"He's a player who I know everyone at the club admires very much and I think he's the right type of player that Patrick might be interested in - a forward of his type. Someone who is very quick and makes a lot of runs in behind."

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Palace could also do with strengthening in midfield and one deal that would make up part of the club's ideal scenario would be securing Manchester United wantaway Donny van de Beek on loan for the rest of the season.

The Eagles have a spare domestic loan spot available in the squad and could use van de Beek to provide competition in midfield.

James McArthur's injury and Cheikhou Kouyate's time away at the Africa Cup of Nations has left Vieira stretched in the middle of the pitch, and adding Dutch international van de Beek into the squad would alleviate pressure on Conor Gallagher as well as match the team's possession-based style.

To make the window even sweeter, some fans might hope to see Palace agree on a deal with Mainz for the permanent acquisition of Jean-Philippe Mateta.

The French forward is a year into an 18-month loan at the club but has impressed in recent weeks with goals against Norwich and Millwall plus a strong performance last time out leading the line against Liverpool.

Worst case

As things stand, it would be a huge opportunity missed if Palace were to end the January transfer window without having made a single signing.

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But arguably the worst-case scenario would be if Christian Benteke was sold as well as the club failing to secure any incoming deals.

The Belgian is reportedly a target for Burnley, who themselves are hoping to find a striker who can replace Chris Wood following his £25million move to Newcastle United.

Reports came out following the rumours linking Benteke to Burnley suggesting that the Palace man was happy in south London and was not interested in a move up north, to the delight of Palace fans.

Vieira also quashed the rumours personally, though it's no doubt that if he were to leave it'd be a big blow for Palace to lose such an experienced member of the squad.

And while Jean-Philippe Mateta features in the best case scenario deadline day, he also features in the worst.

Ligue 1 side St Etienne have been interested in signing the striker for most of the window so far, though Palace have reportedly not entertained any talks to cut Mateta's loan short.

Although he hasn't been one of the club's main players since his arrival 12 months ago, his presence would still be felt were he to depart, and were there to be an injury to either Benteke or Odsonne Edouard then the club would be left stretched up front.

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