Crystal Palace could lose their prized asset in the summer, as Wilfried Zaha is reportedly set to reject a new contract in order to join a bigger club.
The 24-year-old has been a key figure in the Palace attack this season. He has scored six league goals and assisted seven as they fight against the threat of relegation.
It has been widely reported (including in The Sun) in the past few days that chairman Steve Parish is willing to offer Zaha £110,000 plus a week to secure his signature on a new contract. Manager Sam Allardyce recently confirmed the bumper new contract. However, the deal will only be offered if Palace stay in the top flight.
Allardyce also said he hopes the player isn’t listening to newspaper speculation. Ahead of Tuesday night’s clash with Southampton, Big Sam said (via Sky Sports):
“Hopefully Wilf is not listening to what the papers say – good or bad – and it doesn’t distract him from his focus on the performances he is giving at the moment.
“Any player can get distracted by good publicity as well as bad. He has to focus on the fact he has to consistently perform at the level he is performing at and that gives him a greater value for our football club.
“Steve has chosen to maybe offer him a new deal. Whether Wilf accepts that on the basis that he likes this club and what the club has done for him, only time will tell.
“Come the end of the season, make sure we are in the Premier League and those talks can perhaps take place but until then shut up about it.
“If we stay in the Premier League, it will be great if Wilf accepts a new contract. I don’t blame Steve for saying we are going to try and offer him one because he is major asset for us.
“If you can secure that asset in the summer by being good enough to offer another deal, if he has already got a long one, then that would be fantastic for the club.”
It would seem both Parish and Allardyce are keen to keep the player at Selhurst Park. However, he is keen to test himself at a higher level and will reportedly reject the offer.
Zaha has left Palace for a bigger club before, although it didn’t turn out as he had hoped. Alex Ferguson made him his final signing for Manchester United and big things were expected. However, he only made four appearances for them under David Moyes. He moved to Cardiff on loan for the second half of his first season at the club, then rejoined Palace.
Although it didn’t work out for him at United, Zaha still has high aspirations. He believes he has what it takes to succeed at the highest level and just needs the chance. He’s now older, more experienced and an all-around better player than he was four years ago.
He has six caps, with two goals, at international level for the Ivory Coast. His form this season has been exceptional and several clubs are interested in signing him.
Tottenham had a bid for the winger turned down last summer and are believed to still be interested. There have also been reports suggesting Arsenal and Chelsea are also keen on a deal.
All three of those clubs would be able to offer Zaha European football. Chelsea and Tottenham are almost certain of a place in the Champions League, with Arsenal likely to at least qualify for the Europa League. The chance to play at that level could be too tempting for Zaha.
All Palace can offer is the chance to help push them onto bigger and better things. It will be tough for Parish and Allardyce to persuade him to stay but not impossible.
It seems Zaha has some decisions to make this summer, as to where he will play his football next term.
Peter Reynolds, Pundit Arena