Three players Crystal Palace should sign

Sports Mole picks out three transfer targets that we feel would help Crystal Palace to build upon last season's positive performances.

While there are those that believe that the job done by Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool last term was deserving of the Manager of the Year accolade, the work carried out by Tony Pulis at Selhurst Park should not be ignored.

He inherited a Crystal Palace side from Ian Holloway in November that looked destined for an immediate return back to the Championship, but come the final day of the season, the Eagles had finished 11th, some 12 points above the relegation zone.

Pulis will only be too aware, however, that the club cannot afford to rest on their laurels. History is littered with examples of teams that overachieved one season, only to suffer badly during the following campaign. Here, Sports Mole has picked out three transfer targets that we believe can help Palace to consolidate their Premier League status for another year.

1. Steven Caulker, Cardiff City

Steven Caulker of Cardiff City celebrates scoring their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Cardiff City and Swansea City at Cardiff City Stadium on November 3, 2013© Getty Images

Under Holloway's guidance, Palace found clean sheets hard to come by. The defensive unit was a largely poorly organised one, which made relegation appear to be an almost certainty.

Of course, that all changed when Pulis arrived. Clean sheets were kept in three of his first four matches at the helm, while the January acquisition of Scott Dann from Blackburn Rovers proved to be a masterstroke. Although ordinarily a midfielder, Joe Ledley, who arrived from Celtic, also filled in on occasions at left-back to a high standard. Such was the level of the understanding between the back four that between March 8 and April 12, Palace shipped just one goal.

Nevertheless, there still remains ample room for improvement. Dann made the centre-back position his own, but he could do with a more sprightly partner. At 22 and with genuine pace, Caulker would fit the bill perfectly. While he is by no means the finished article, the defender showed in what was a disappointing season for Cardiff collectively that he has the credentials to become a solid influence. Defensive duties aside, Caulker has also proved himself to be a threat in the opposition's penalty area.

2. Wilfried Zaha, Manchester United

Manchester United's Wilfried Zaha controls the ball against Kitchee during their football friendly match at Hong Kong stadium on July 29, 2013© Getty Images

The grass, it would seem, is not always greener on the other side - just ask Zaha. Firstly, the youngster cannot be blamed for swapping Palace for Manchester United. After all, few players would reject such a switch. The move hasn't worked out, though, so much so that he spent the second half of last season on loan with Cardiff, where he didn't exactly set the world alight.

Nevertheless, it's too early to doubt the England Under-21 international's potential. He has simply just lost his way and perhaps a return to the place where it all started and where he is loved could reignite the fire. Let's not forget, without Zaha's contribution, Palace would probably not have returned to the Premier League during the 2012-13 campaign.

From Palace's point of view, they would benefit from some bolstering in the wide areas, particularly after Thomas Ince's departure following a short loan stint. Jason Puncheon impressed on one flank and with an in-form Zaha in tandem on the other, it could make for some exciting times at Selhurst Park.

3. Jordan Rhodes, Blackburn Rovers

Jordan Rhodes of Blackburn Rovers celebrates his goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Blackburn Rovers and Burnley at Ewood Park on March 9, 2014© Getty Images

Not only did Pulis convert Palace into a tight defensive outfit, he also instilled enough confidence into Marouane Chamakh to make him look like a dangerous Premier League centre-forward. That was a task that even proved to be beyond Arsene Wenger. His displays have convinced Pulis to offer the Moroccan extends terms, which he will reportedly sign over the coming days.

Dwight Gayle also showed that he could be a useful asset, particularly as an impact substitute, while it would be fair to reserve judgement as far as Glenn Murray is concerned at Premier League level because it takes some time for a player to recover from the sort of knee injury suffered by the centre-forward in May 2013.

What none of those three can be described as, though, is a consistent prolific scorer of goals, unlike Rhodes. Granted, the Scotland international has only found the net regularly in the Football League, but his return of 52 goals over the last two seasons for a mid-table Championship side is a highly respectable one. His movement inside the area and composure in front of goal would suggest that although his signing would be a gamble, it may well be a rewarding one. What's more, the 24-year-old is bound to jump at the opportunity to test himself in the top flight.

Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis smiles prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Hull City at Selhurst Park on January 28, 2014
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