Alan Pardew has praised Jason Puncheon, following the midfielder's new contract at Crystal Palace, suggesting that the 28-year-old has matured during his time in SE25, becoming a role model for the younger players and a leader amongst the senior squad.
Puncheon, who Pardew called the Eagles' best player since his arrival as manager, signed a new deal to keep him at the club until June 2019.
The news was well received among Palace fans, who had voted Puncheon into the top five nominees for Player of the Year, and the manager shared their enthusiasm.
"Since I've come in, about halfway through the season, Jason Puncheon has been the best player. He's orchestrated our play and I've given him more responsibility than he's ever had, playing in a central role, and he's answered all those questions. He's now made himself the intelligence of the team."
Pardew was also pleased with Puncheon's work as a role model to the younger players at the squad, particularly those local to the area, like the Croydon-born midfielder.
"The way he conducts himself around the young players here, he's very influential and very important," he added.
"You need to keep your best technical players and at our level it's difficult to secure player's of Punch's quality. I'm really pleased about it.
"I think he's found a home here and he's grown into leadership, you must not underestimate the influence he has over the Academy players."