The cunning Crystal Palace and Chelsea swap transfer deal that would solve big problems for both clubs

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The two clubs are credited with interest in each other's defensive talent.

The cause of the fire that burnt down the Crystal Palace in November of 1936 has never been concretely deduced. One day the great glass construction was glinting beneath the cold gaze of a low wintry sun, the next it was a smouldering heap of singed iron and charred debris. In the decades since, however, a common consensus has emerged that years of wear and tear, combined with a lack of financial investment in repairs, had left the Palace in poor condition and inadequately prepared to deal with a disaster of such severity. You could arguably say the same things about the Crystal Palace of 2024.

Roy Hodgson's men are in trouble. With a flimsy quintet of points separating them from the bottom three, and just one win in the Premier League since Bonfire Night, the Eagles are caught in something of a tailspin. Things have soured to such an extent that their supporters have taken to unfurling angry banners (which is basically what the Incredible Hulk is) as a means of protest. During last weekend's 5-0 pestling at the hands of Arsenal, one display read: 'Wasted potential on and off the pitch, weak decisions taking us backwards'. A second stated: 'No shared vision, no structured plan'.

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As such, Palace find themselves stuck between a proverbial rock and an equally proverbial hard place. Evidently, change is needed, and swiftly. Relegation becomes a more tangible threat with every passing week, and it feels like a seeping inevitability that Hodgson will be relieved of his duties sooner rather than later. For his successor to be, well, successful, however, the Eagles will need to spend - and that's where things begin to get tricky.

Palace are not exactly minted, especially in relation to several of the clubs around them. As a consequence, the chances are that for any kind of spree to be enacted, they would need to sell one of their prized assets first. Michael Olise, of course, came within a whisker of leaving the club during the summer transfer window, while the sidelined Cheick Doucoure was perpetually linked with Liverpool prior to his season-ending Achilles injury.

Perhaps the most frequently speculated upon, however, is Marc Guehi. The England international continues to impress at the heart of defence, and it feels like a matter of time before he is torn from Palace's grasp by one of the traditional big six. Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United have all been mentioned as prospective suitors, but it is the centre-back's boyhood club, Chelsea, who dominate many of the headlines. And that, dear reader, is rather interesting.

You see, in recent days, alongside the Blues' prolonged pursuit of their former academy graduate, Palace have been credited with an interest in another product of the Cobham machine, Trevoh Chalobah.

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At the time of writing, it is broadly expected that Chalobah will leave Chelsea in the near future. The defender has struggled immensely with injury this season, but even when he is fit, much like Neville Longbottom, Mauricio Pochettino seemingly has a real knack for misplacing Trev. At 24, he is nowhere near a regular starting berth at Stamford Bridge, and if the sombre expression he projected from the terraces during the Blues' 6-1 midweek demolition of Middlesbrough is anything to go by, he is acutely aware of his diminished status.

But as the tired adage goes, one man's trash is another man's treasure, and some kind of exchange involving Chalobah and Guehi could prove to be hugely beneficial to both Palace and Chelsea.

Granted, no Eagle in their right mind would welcome Guehi's departure, but let's propose, somewhat conservatively, that Palace can hold out for a valuation of around £60 million when he does eventually leave Selhurst Park. As recently as September, Chelsea were said to have accepted an offer of roughly £25 million for Chalobah from Nottingham Forest. Even if those two numbers were to apply now - and in truth, Guehi is probably worth more and Chalobah less - then Palace would be losing their star defender, but bringing in a very capable replacement, plus an extra £35 million to spend on bolstering the rest of their squad, as compensation. There are certainly worse deals to strike.

From Chelsea's perspective, they would be ridding themselves of a player they deem to be surplus to requirements, while also securing the arrival of one of the most sought after and promising talents in English football. When you look at it like that, it could end up being a win for everybody involved. And lord knows Palace need a win more than most right now.

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