According to The Sun, explosive winger Wilfried Zaha has told Crystal Palace he wants to leave the club this summer. And while Eagles fans will be desperate for their talismanic attacker to stay, there’s no doubt Zaha’s wish has been a long time coming. He kept them up last season pretty much single-handed, and rightly feels he deserves another shot at the big time.
Palace reportedly value their star man at a staggering £70million. So what would actually happen if another club met the Eagles’ valuation, paid up and prised Zaha away from Selhurst Park? We take a look at the potential consequences – some positive, some negative – of such a transfer deal taking place this summer…
The Eagles will want to move quickly to fill Zaha’s void and considering how almighty that void will be, it could well require bringing in two talented replacements. Palace have been strongly linked with Michail Antonio, who now seems to be a bit of a spare part at West Ham following the arrivals of Andriy Yarmolenko and Felipe Anderson, and selling Zaha would leave the south Londoners with more than enough money to agree a deal with the Hammers.
But there’s also talk of Zaha moving to Everton with former Eagles charge Yannick Bolasie moving the other way. He’s never quite been the same calibre as the Palace product and is still getting back to his best after a horrendous injury at the start of his Goodison career. But the Congo winger would be a decent replacement and could in fact be the perfect signing to keep the fans on board – a friendly face who is known to have genuine passion for the club can go a very long way, especially when you’ve just lost your most important player.
Should Palace’s valuation be met, there’s no reason the Eagles can’t pull off deals for both widemen and have something left over.
Of course, Zaha isn’t the only huge talent leaving Selhurst Park this summer. Ruben Loftus-Cheek was one of the stars of last season in south London, his surging runs forward from midfield creating excitement amongst supporters and plenty of scoring opportunities for the likes of Zaha, Andros Townsend and Christian Benteke.
Palace have some good quality in midfield. Although Yohan Cabaye has just left for the Middle East, Luka Milivojevic has been one of the most underrated engine room enforcers in the Premier League over the last 18 months, James McArthur’s proved a decent source of goals and Jason Puncheon will be back in action next season too.
But none are offensive driving forces in quite the same way, and Hodgson will be keen to bring someone in who can replicate that kind of service. Selling Zaha will give him the funds to do so on a permanent basis rather than another loan deal.
Palace were only caught up in a relegation battle last season because they endured such an abysmal start to the campaign, but selling Zaha could unfortunately see history repeat itself. It’s no secret that Palace failed to win a single point without their star man last season and while that doesn’t mean the Eagles will go an entire campaign without earning one should the Ivory Coast forward leave this summer, the statistic does inevitably highlight Zaha’s intrinsic role in this side.
When you have a talisman like that, it often takes time for another player to truly step up and fill the void, to take it upon themselves to rise to the big moments. Eventually, that will happen – especially if Hodgson brings in new blood this summer that isn’t accustomed to relying on Zaha in the same way. But it’s really a question of how long, and what position Palace are in before someone truly takes up Zaha’s mantle. If it doesn’t happen in the first few weeks of the season, the Selhurst Park outfit could quickly find themselves in another relegation battle – even if they’re more than capable of getting out of it once again.
Would you sell Zaha for £70million, Palace fans? Let us know by voting below…