Alan Pardew hailed Jason Puncheon as Crystal Palace’s best player after confirming the midfielder has signed a new contract at Selhurst Park.
Puncheon’s new deal will keep him at the club for “three or four years”, according to Palace manager Pardew, who waxed lyrical about his performances this season and his influence on younger squad members.
“Since I’ve come in, Jason Puncheon has been the best player,” said Pardew. “He has orchestrated our play. We’ve given him more responsibility than he’s ever had in a central role and he’s answered all those questions.
“He’s made himself the intelligence of the team.”
Speaking ahead of Palace’s Premier League trip to Anfield to face Liverpool on Saturday, Pardew added: “You need to keep your best technical players. At the level we’re at, it’s difficult to get players of Puncheon’s quality. I’m really pleased to secure him.
“The way he conducts himself – particularly around the young black players – is very influential and important. I think he’s found a home here, and a leadership. You musn’t underestimate the influence he has.
“Our academy is 80 per cent black. We need some black players here setting the right example. They can look up to him and see that you can reach the heights of the Premier League through this football club.”
Pardew also confirmed that Palace defender Damien Delaney has signed a new one-year contract extension.
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