Crystal Palace opinion: Will Loris Benito be a good fit for the Eagles?
Crystal Palace left-back Pape Souare has made only a single appearance so far this season and could leave the club when his contract expires in the summer.
The Senegalese, 28, was starting to make a name for himself at Palace before being involved in that horror car crash around two years ago that saw him fracture his leg and jaw. His injury nightmare has continued, with Souare dislocating his shoulder in January.
Even though he is now back to full fitness, the defender’s time at Selhurst Park could be up at the end of the season due to contract expiry. Patrick van Aanholt and Jeffrey Schlupp have worked well in tandem at left-back in his absence.
Van Aanholt is the first-choice at left-back under Roy Hodgson, with the Crystal Palace manager preferring to use Schlupp in the midfield. Schlupp is defensively decent and does a pretty job when handed a role at left-back but he excels going forward, using his pace and movement to trouble the defenders.
That has made the Ghanaian a regular fixture in the Palace engine room, leaving Van Aanholt with very less competition. Come summer, Hodgson needs to address that problem.
The veteran English manager must let go of Souare and sign Young Boys defender Loris Benito to compete with Van Aanholt at left-back.
Loris Benito, 27, has been a regular fixture in the Young Boys defence this season, managing a goal and three assists in 32 appearances across all competitions. He played a crucial role in Young Boys’ title triumph last season and remains one of the team’s most reliable players.
The two-cap Switzerland international is an attack-minded full-back blessed with the rare balance of defensive diligence as well. Benito is powerful, strong, has good pace and tackling skills.
The Swiss ace is also a good passer of the ball and tends to keep things simple at the back. While he is a good crosser of the ball from the wide areas, the 27-year-old also likes to link up the play and sets up his teammates with key passes.
Benito’s game-reading and positional awareness coupled with his decent pace allow him to track back and make recovery runs to cut out the attacks, while his ability to time his tackles to perfection makes him a valuable asset to the backline.
Palace are an exciting team to watch while going forward but when it comes to defending, they fail to inspire much confidence. The south Londoners desperately need to add stability to their backline if they are to stem the flow of goals and challenge higher up the table next season.
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Someone like Benito, who can play at left-back or in central defence, can definitely be the answer to the Eagles’ defensive miseries and Hodgson must go all out to sign him this summer.