Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish has ruled out any chance of Eagles winger Wilfried Zaha leaving the club in January, after the 25-year-old was linked with a potential switches to Arsenal and Spurs.
Over the years we’ve grown accustomed to endless transfer speculation in relation to the academy graduate but having put pen to paper on a big-money five-year contract during the summer, there appears to be absolutely no chance of the club entertaining the idea of a sale in the New Year.
In the eyes of the masses, Zaha’s ill-fated stint at Manchester United still defines him but you need only ask the Palace fans who watch him from week to week to know that he’s a completely different player to the one that left for Old Trafford back in 2013. Having grown both mentally and physically in the years since, Wilf is now comfortable putting the team on his back and carrying us through games, making him an ideal target for the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.
Whilst plenty across the British press automatically assume that Zaha would jump at the chance of joining a “big four” club again, the man himself is clearly desperate to ensure that we retain our place in the Premier League for another year, making the chances of him demanding a January exit almost non-existent.
Of course, were we to drop into the second tier by May, the balance would shift dramatically but right now, the thoughts of everyone at Crystal Palace are focused fully on survival, rather than planning for the worst-case scenario.
In reality, having moved away once before and struggled to adapt, it’s hardly a surprise to see Wilf thriving in SE25. His style of play, whilst electrifying to watch, demands a certain degree of tactical freedom and faith from both the manager and the supporters; a luxury which he almost certainly wouldn’t be afforded at any of England’s regular Champions League challengers.
To force Zaha into adopting a regimented style of play is to stifle what has made him such a special talent in the first place, meaning that any manager who is serious about taking him off our hands should think long and hard about how they would accommodate him before taking the plunge on what would be an incredibly large transfer fee.
As Palace fans, we’ve always known that a Wilf would be going nowhere in January but even so, it’s always nice to hear it straight from the chairman’s mouth.