The last time Jordan Ayew signed a contract extension, it was greeted with a mixed response. A winger who is far from prolific extending his stay at Crystal Palace wasn’t seen as the most exciting news, particularly when coupled with an extension for another polarising player in Jeffrey Schlupp.
Eight months later, though, Ayew’s latest extension, taking him to the end of next season, appears to have received a warmer reaction. It is not the most exciting news but Ayew remains an important part of Palace’s squad. When Michael Olise returns from a hamstring injury, Ayew may switch to the left wing but he has a crucial role to play in the meantime.
When combined with Sam Johnstone’s one-year extension, which leaves his contract expiring in 2027, it shows that Palace are being proactive. The goalkeeper has impressed since taking the No 1 shirt from Vicente Guaita at the end of last season and Palace are better for both Johnstone and Ayew extending their contracts.
When it comes to Johnstone there is an element of protecting his value. The 30-year-old is now under contract for three more years come the end of the season. Although this may not have been a priority, it is positive for Palace.
Meanwhile, no player has been fouled more times in the Premier League this season, or in the last two seasons, than Ayew, although he has committed the most fouls this term. While scoring goals from a wide position is never going to be his game, his defensive work in a team which has been forced to prioritise stability and structure over free-flowing attacking football has been crucial.
Even as Palace seek to reduce the age of their squad, the 32-year-old will offer valuable experience. That cannot be overlooked.
“Jordan is a fantastic professional, on and off the pitch,” said chairman Steve Parish. “His efforts are never less than 100 per cent, and as a result, he provides an outstanding example to his teammates day in, day out.”
That is particularly helpful when it comes to the young players in the squad. The 19-year-old Matheus Franca and 21-year-old Jesurun Rak-Sakyi will both benefit from Ayew’s experience and approach to the game. They may be more attacking players than he is but style is less important here.
It is also the left wing where Palace’s need for reinforcements is more pressing, and so retaining a player who has plenty to offer and who has versatility will also allow funds in future transfer windows to be directed to the more urgent areas.
After Roy Hodgson returned in March, Ayew was revitalised and reinvented, playing an integral attacking role as Palace released their shackles in front of goal. He scored three times and claimed two assists in those final 10 Premier League games, but his contribution was far greater than those stats suggest.
It has not been such a fruitful spell in front of goal so far this season, with one goal and two assists in the league, but he continues to work hard, and perform his duties diligently and effectively. He was an ever-present last season, playing all 41 games across all competitions. Even if Palace become more expansive next season, he will have a role to play.
The complaints about Palace’s transfer activity have, understandably and fairly, centred on the absence of squad depth, particularly in attack. Renewing Ayew’s contract will help to address that next season. Replacing him would have been an unnecessary expense and it is clear he remains capable at Premier League level.
Ultimately, there were few compelling reasons not to keep him for at least a further year, and many in favour of doing so. This is a sensible move from Palace.
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