James McArthur has agreed on a new deal with Crystal Palace, according to The Sun.
The 34-year-old’s contract was due to expire this summer before this agreement, meaning that he could have left the club as a free agent this window.
However, his game time at the south London club has decreased as he has gotten older. His last two seasons are the only ones in which he has made less than 20 starts, with the 15 starts this campaign being the lowest.
Conor Gallagher, who is on loan from Chelsea, Cheikhou Kouyate, and Jeffrey Schlupp all made more appearances than the Glasgow-born midfielder, suggesting that they are higher up in Patrick Vieira’s pecking order.
McArthur’s new deal then implies that one of the players ahead will not be at the club next season, and this most likely means that Palace will see Gallagher return.
The 22-year-old will be difficult to replace for Vieira’s side. He has the highest WhoScored league rating in the team, and only Wilfred Zaha has scored more than the England international’s eight goals.
However, in McArthur, the Eagles already have a player who could potentially fill in the void.
Despite his limited game time last season, he was one of the best players at Selhurst Park. His WhoScored rating of 6.84 is the third highest at the club.
He also leads the way in the team for interceptions per game, and is in the top five for tackles and key passes (WhoScored), proving that he can replicate Gallagher’s presence in both boxes.
“We’ll have to manage him well and try to have him as much as we can on the field because he has this competitiveness, he’s a real competitor on the field. When he is on the field he guides positive talk and we have a couple of players who need that. To have him on the field is important to us.”
“He’s a really important player for us, on but off the field as well, because he’s loud on the field, he’s talking, and he doesn’t stop talking on the field. We need him to guide some of the players around and we are a different team when he is on the field. He’s a natural leader. This is something that he has in him and has always had.”
All this means that while Gallagher may not be at Palace next year, McArthur’s new deal means he won’t be missed as much as the Selhurst Park faithful first thought.