There have never been any doubts about Wilfried Zaha’s ability on the pitch, although major red flags have arisen in his game at times this season that might dissuade some clubs from shelling out the big bucks for his services, ultimately costing him a dream second-chance at European football.
The spellbinding winger has a reputation – deserved or otherwise – for diving and his frustration at not being awarded fouls often leads him to charge down the offender and commit a foul in turn, which he has been typically booked for himself.
It has taken the 26-year-old far too long to realise that his opponents’ unlawful attempts to stop him is a somewhat warped sign of respect for his abilities and that, in rising to their antagonistic exploits, his petulance can cost his team when it matters.
Of course, the number 11’s frustration is understandable, but his sarcastic clapping of Andre Marriner which led to a red card against Southampton on 30th January is inexcusable and an undeniable low-point of an otherwise exemplary campaign.
The talisman’s one-game suspension thereafter seems to have served its purpose in teaching him a lesson though.
Zaha has been in sensational form ever since he collected that red card, chalking up six goals and three assists. Meanwhile, he has been booked just once, compared to seven cautions before that – a pivotal change in his season.
Many football fans dread the transfer window. The Pl>ymaker FC squad name who they’re worried about losing this summer in the video below…
Now the Ivorian seems to understand what it means when he’s kicked all over the park and when he keeps his cool he can can be unplayable, so long may it continue. His 3.7 dribbles per game since the end of January compared to 3.2 dribbles before then shows that this change in attitude has improved his performances even in the area most regard as his strongest.
Palace reportedly value their star man at £75-£80m and, since he’s cut out his petulant antics and become resilient, the tricky speedster has become worth every penny, if not to his potential suitors then the Eagles at least.
Zaha is their attacking soul and with his temper no longer a weakness, the damage he can do on the pitch knows no limits, as Cardiff found out to their detriment on Saturday.
Whether or not the likes of Arsenal and Spurs are willing to cough up that eye-watering sum, Palace shouldn’t budge on their valuation.