Crystal Palace have announced the appointment of Patrick Vieira as their new manager, bringing one of the Premier League's greatest players back to London. Vieira, a two-time double winner with Arsenal, has signed a three year contract at Selhurst Park to succeed Roy Hodgson, who left Palace at the end of the 2020-21 season.
The former France international has been out of work since parting ways with Ligue 1 side Nice in December. He also managed MLS side New York City FC between 2016 and 2018, taking them to the MLS Cup Conference semifinals in both of his full seasons in charge.
"I am really excited to have this opportunity to return to the Premier League, and manage this great football club, as we begin a new chapter together," Vieira, 45, said. "It is a project that is really appealing to me, having spoken a lot with the chairman [Steve Parish] and sporting director [Dougie Freedman] about their ambition and plans for the whole club, including the Academy. The club has fantastic foundations in place after many years in the Premier League, and I hope we can make further improvements and continue to drive the club forward.
"I am also very excited to experience the atmosphere the club's supporters make at Selhurst Park and away from home too, and I know just how important that can be for the team."
Proud and excited to be part of this new journey. I want to thank the @CPFC board for their trust & thank the fans for the amount of support I've been getting for the past few days. I can't wait to see you there, back where it all started @premierleague. Come on you Eagles 🦅❤️💙 pic.twitter.com/fa8BO6LZgW— Patrick Vieira (@OfficialVieira) July 4, 2021
Vieira joins Palace at a significant moment in their history. The Eagles are readying themselves for their ninth consecutive season in the Premier League, the longest spell in the top flight they have ever had, but their aging squad is in need of renovation. A total of 11 players saw their contracts expire at the end of June with only one reporting to preseason testing last week. The group -- which includes the likes of Andros Townsend, Gary Cahill and Nathaniel Clyne -- were told that their futures would be resolved once a new manager was in place.
Meanwhile talismanic forward Wilfried Zaha has made Palace aware of his desire to leave the club and promising youngsters Eberechi Eze and Nathan Ferguson will miss the start of the season with long-term injuries.
Vieira was not the first person to find himself in negotiations for the Selhurst Park vacancy. Talks with Nuno Espirito Santo collapsed last month before he joined Tottenham whilst former Borussia Dortmund boss Lucien Favre also withdrew from consideration.
"I'm delighted and excited that Patrick has agreed to join Crystal Palace as our manager following successfully learning his trade at the City Group, and experiencing positive managerial spells at New York City and then Nice, who he led to the Europa League," Parish said.
"We have a lot to do to prepare in the coming weeks and I look forward to working closely with Patrick and Dougie in bringing in some new faces to help us all to a successful season."