Sam Allardyce may have only been in the Crystal Palace hotseat for a matter of months but he’s already well and truly under the spell of winger Wilfried Zaha.
Despite persistent interest in the wide man from Tottenham Hostpur, Palace fans everywhere have remained hopeful of the academy man putting pen to paper on a new deal since the season began, with the above quotes from Big Sam offering cause for genuine optimism.
Of course, the lure of Champions League football with Mauricio Pochettino’s upwardly mobile north London outfit will act as a huge hurdle but in Zaha, Palace have a player who knows better than anyone that the grass is not always greener on the other side.
Adored by almost every Palace fan the world over, games both at home and away are looked upon as opportunities for Wilf to ruffle opposition players feathers, backed vociferously by those in the stands. On Saturday against Watford, Wilf was in particularly inspired form, causing the likes of Craig Cathcart and Daniel Prodl all manner of problems. His game involves a huge slice of showmanship, all of which is lapped up by those who have watched him grow from a boy into a man.
He may well achieve more with other clubs if he does decide to move, but both he and his representatives will know that he’ll never receive the same level of unequivocal backing from another set of supporters. Having watched Palace week in, week out for 14 years, I can’t think of another player who inspired the same protective instincts from our fan-base, it’s quite astounding to witness when it’s in full flow.
There is no doubt in my mind that Zaha deserves to be one of Palace’s top earners, such is his importance to the club as a whole. Whilst arguments will continue to rage about the extortionate amounts footballers earn, contractual parity is a huge aspect of any workplace on the planet and with the likes of Andros Townsend currently taking home significantly more than him, he has every right to stand his ground over any talks of a contract extension on his current pay.
Big Sam is clearly desperate to keep him at Palace for the long-term; taking the quotes above into account, the ball is firmly in Steve Parish’s court.
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