For Crystal Palace, there is no doubting the priority for the remaining eight days of this summer’s transfer window: find a forward.

Neither Jean-Philippe Mateta nor Odsonne Edouard have proven capable of making themselves indispensable as the primary attacking focus over the past few seasons.

The pair have been used interchangeably, with Mateta preferred by former manager Patrick Vieira before Edouard was given a chance which he failed to take. It is the latter who has found himself in Roy Hodgson’s plans since his return as manager late last season, but while there have been signs of improvement in his all-round game in the two fixtures of 2023-24 so far, the need for a new striker is clear, especially with RB Leipzig interested in taking Mainz old boy Mateta back to the German Bundesliga.

In their opening win away to Sheffield United, Palace recorded 24 shots, putting eight on target; against the sterner test of Arsenal on Monday, those figures fell to 14 and two respectively. With Wilfried Zaha having moved to Galatasaray this summer at the end of his contract and Michael Olise still out injured, they need a striker who can both relieve some of the creative burden on Eberechi Eze and take the chances when they come his way.

The club have considered various forward options in this window. We analyse some of those targets here, and consider who else could help them up front.

Kelechi Iheanacho

Club:Leicester City. Age: 26

Iheanacho has just a year left on his contract and has several suitors this summer, with Palace prominent among them. The 45-cap Nigeria international would not be particularly expensive, in either a fee or his wages.

If Palace were to sign Iheanacho, they would at least prevent him from scoring against them anytime soon: with five goals and four assists in 14 meetings with them, Palace rank as his second-favourite opponents (behind Aston Villa: seven and four in 10).

His form over six years at Leicester has been patchy, much like his confidence. A relative lack of pace means he is not someone who thrives on running behind defences, but that is something he is capable of doing. Iheanacho prefers to come deep and link play, shooting from outside the area rather than within it.

Only twice has he scored more than five goals in a Premier League season — in 2020-21, when he got 12 for Leicester, and in his 2015-16 debut year with previous club Manchester City, when he managed eight. But the numbers are not all so ho-hum.

Despite not starting consistently (83 of his 153 top-flight appearances for Leicester were off the bench), he has a respectable 30 goals and 21 assists in the Premier League for the East Midlands club. He enjoyed a prolific end to 2020-21, scoring 13 goals from 14 starts, his longest run of starts for Leicester, including a hat-trick against Sheffield United. For a while, he exceeded his expected goals total – as the graph below demonstrates – but that was reversed at the back end of last season.

Iheanacho is inconsistent but appears capable of excellent bursts of form. With more minutes, he could come good.

His best Leicester performances have come alongside Jamie Vardy, rather than when operating as the only striker. He fits new manager Enzo Maresca’s system as a linking option rather than necessarily an out-and-out goalscorer, so that may impact on his availability.

Someone who can help Eze and – when fit – Olise and new signing Matheus Franca get into goalscoring positions would be beneficial. Edouard is capable of coming deep and laying the ball off but is more suited to receiving the ball to feet or running onto passes and finishing instinctively.

Che Adams

**Club:Southampton. Age: 27 **

Adams failed to score in his first 29 appearances for then-Premier League Southampton after signing from Birmingham City of the Championship in 2019 but became an important part of their side, and has gone on to earn 23 Scotland caps, thanks to his athleticism, hard work and effective hold-up play.

He is a versatile, hard-working striker who gets himself about the pitch more than being a constant presence in the penalty area. In that respect, he might be more akin to would-be Palace team-mate Jordan Ayew than either Edouard or Mateta, although not identical, as confirmed by his smarterscout profile, which ranks him highest for his defensive attributes.

Adams’ tenaciousness and ability to make space to shoot are other qualities, and he contested a fairly high number of aerial duels last season (7.4 per game). His success in those duels (37.2 per cent) wasn’t the greatest, however.

He is far from prolific, averaging a goal every five games (25 in 124) in his Premier League career and hitting the target with just 29.8 per cent of his shots last season.

Given Palace already have Ayew, Adams wouldn’t seem to be the best fit. That said, his versatility and in particular his physicality would be useful.

A bigger problem if Palace are keen is interest from Everton, which now appears quite advanced.

Brennan Johnson

Club:Nottingham Forest. Age: 22

Johnson was on Palace’s list of replacements if Olise had left this summer. But with Olise having signed a new contract, and Forest’s price tag close to £50million ($63.6m) — they rejected a £35m offer from Brentford for the Wales international last month — it is hard to see how Palace could afford this one.

But if something were to change, Johnson is the type of player they would be prepared to spend big money on. His age and profile fit their recruitment model, and if he continued to develop would be worth significantly more as a saleable asset in the future.

Johnson’s pace and direct running were a frequent source of threat last season, with 11 Premier League goal involvements (eight goals, three assists) as he played in all 38 league matches, starting all but five of them.

Although he is not an orthodox No 9, usually playing off the right, Johnson has played through the middle — albeit with limited effect.

He is another who has interest from clubs with resources and an allure more tempting than Palace, whose needs appear to be more pressing on the left.

Crysencio Summerville

Club:Leeds United. Age: 21

Summerville is a tricky winger with pace, whose direct style causes problems for defences. But he has only 34 Premier League appearances — only 12 of them starts — although he’s scored four goals in those.

It took time for Summerville to break into the Leeds side after his arrival two years ago, but he can play as a No 10 or on the right — the latter is likely to be his best position.

Small and agile, and still raw at such a young age, if he was to sign, this would not be the answer to Palace’s goalscoring issues in the short term at least. In any case, with Olise now staying, he would not be guaranteed the game time required to help him develop further.

Crysencio Summerville (Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Palace have held interest in Summerville this summer and would benefit from signing another wide player, having lost Zaha and replaced him only with Franca, another raw talent at age 19. But the priority is finding someone who can score more frequently than their current options or who can help create clearer opportunities and hold the ball up to bring in the side’s creative players.

Folarin Balogun

Club: Arsenal. Age: 22

Balogun is not one Palace are currently looking at and he has been linked with clubs of greater resources and stature, but he certainly fits their recruitment model: young, talented but in need of regular minutes at a club where he can prove himself further, following an excellent 22-goal loan in France’s top division with Reims last season. Palace could offer him all of that, and potentially enjoy a significant profit if and when he moved on to one of those bigger teams.

The U.S. international is prolific from close range, frequently getting himself into the penalty area to be alert to high-value goalscoring opportunities and then converting them. A reactive, instinctive finisher who takes a lot of shots, he tends to drift naturally to the left side of the pitch and has improved his work out of possession.

Those attributes are highly desirable and the reason that top clubs are keen on him. Monaco, for example, recently had an offer turned down by Arsenal and Inter Milan are also interested.

Whatever fee he moves permanently for would likely prove prohibitive for Palace unless there was a major sale first and Balogun has said he does not want to go out on loan again, so while he is the type of striker the club would surely be interested in if the circumstances were different, he is likely to be out of their reach.

Should he be without a permanent move in the final days or even hours of the window, it’s possible he could potentially become more open to another loan, however. Palace could then seek to take advantage of that situation. In reality, though, this one, as good as it would be, is probably totally out of reach.

Other possibilities? Palace have a long-standing interest in Demarai Gray at Everton, but he is not a true striker, so like Johnson and Summerville, would be further down the list of priorities.

Another option, albeit far more remote, could be Romelu Lukaku.

A loan would suit Chelsea, who are desperate to get him off the wage bill, although there would surely be no chance of Palace paying all his £340,000 per week wages and it is also doubtful whether the Belgian would be keen to join them.

If, however, Lukaku is facing the prospect of a season out in the cold at Chelsea, or possibly moving to Saudi Arabia before their window closes on September 20, maybe desperation could kick in.

Whatever the resolution in his case, one thing is clear: Palace need attacking reinforcements – fast.

(Top photos: Getty Images)