Crystal Palace must keep Zaha or risk Premier League freefall

In November 2012, Wilfried Zaha was called up to the England senior national team while playing for Crystal Palace in the Championship.

Roy Hodgson made the an unprecedented move to call-up the skilful winger and gave Zaha his national team debut on 14 November against Sweden, just four days after his 20th birthday.

Manchester United bought the rising star the following January in a move that can only be deemed a failure for both sides. Zaha made only two league appearances in a half season with Man United and returned to Palace on loan in 2014 before making the move permanent in the January window.

David Moyes never gave Zaha a proper chance and when Louis van Gaal came in, he preferred his own player, Memphis Depay.

Over three years later, Zaha is the dribbling menace that Sir Alex Ferguson believed he’d be and the player most responsible for helping Palace avoid relegation this season. He changed his international football allegiance to his birth nation Ivory Coast last November, against the wishes of Gareth Southgate, and made his debut against Sweden, interestingly enough.

He represented them at the Africa Cup of Nations in January and could represent them at the 2018 World Cup in Russia should they qualify.

Zaha had started to find his feet in the Premier League two seasons ago, but this past season the 24-year old was his true re-breakout year.

The Ivorian winger scored seven goals and assisted 11 more in 35 league appearances for the Eagles throughout 16/17. He became a star at Selhurst Park alongside Christian Benteke and was a key figure as Sam Allardyce led Crystal Palace to Premier League safety. Tottenham were reportedly interested in signing Zaha, and Palace would be making a huge mistake if they let him go.

An attacking core of Benteke, Andros Townsend and Luka Milivojevic could struggle to keep Eagles in the Premier League anext season. Teams in the lower half often struggle upon losing their best players and a potential Zaha sale would put the Eagles in a tough spot.

The winger has yet to miss a game due to injury in his career and is the team’s primary creator. His above goal for Ivory Coast against Russia and his equalizsr against Swansea are prime examples of the quality Zaha possesses.

Palace’s manager, whoever that ends up being, needs to sit down with Zaha as soon as he is appointed, otherwise it could be a long season at Selhurst Park.

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