Palace hold talks with Juventus defender Dragusin over summer move


rystal Palace have held initial talks with Juventus defender Radu Dragusin over a pre-contract move to south London this summer.

The Eagles face a decisive transfer window at the end of this season as chairman Steve Parish and sporting director Dougie Freedman push to bring the average age of their squad down.

Every single one of Roy Hodgson’s central defenders are above the age of 30 and all bar James Tomkins and Cheikhou Kouyate are out of contract at the end of the season. Talks have been held with Scott Dann over an extension while Gary Cahill is also expected to be handed a new deal.

Dragusin is out of contract in Turin at the end of the season, meaning Palace can begin negotiations over a pre-contract, though it is thought they face competition.

The 19-year-old made his Juventus debut in the Champions League in December and was introduced as a late substitue for his first game in Serie A later that month. Since then he has made just two appearances in the Coppa Italia and was an unused substitute for the two legs of the semi-final against Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan.

The Italian giants are considering extending the Romanian centre-half’s deal, though Dragusin is keen to play more frequently with the likes of Matthijs De Ligt, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci above him in the pecking order in Turin. Newcastle have also been linked with a move.

Hodgson has faced a number of injury problems at the back this season, which has seen Kouyate drop back from midfield into defence, and Palace have conceded 14 more goals than at this stage last season.

The Eagles are keen to add a number of younger faces to the squad this summer, having begun to do so with the signings of Eberechi Eze and Nathan Ferguson ahead of this season.

“It’s no secret: we’ve got work to do,” chairman Parish said of the squad late last year. “The average age doesn’t win or lose you games but obviously there’s a time limit on footballers in terms of physical ability to perform. So we’re acutely aware we’ve got to make smart decisions.

“We need to look forward to the summer and continue the work we did last summer; continue to be targeted in our approach, make sure everybody’s on the same page – that me, the manager, Dougie [Freedman] are all working to the same goal.”

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