Wilfried Zaha only signed his latest five-year contract extension at Crystal Palace last summer but after playing such a pivotal role for the Eagles throughout the 2017/18 campaign, plenty of neutrals are raising the possibility of him flying the nest by the time summer arrives.
Luckily, there are still plenty of people throughout the sporting press who feel the 25-year-old would be best served by staying put in SE25 and after Ian Wright’s impassioned call for the academy man to shun the likes of Spurs should they come calling, this piece featured on Football365 drills right to the heart of why Zaha is perfectly placed to succeed in red and blue for the foreseeable future.
Whilst I would never deny that the wide man is more than talented enough to succeed at a top six club, I have always felt that his game is perfectly suited to the environment Palace have built around him in SE25. Of course, were he to move on to a side with more lofty ambitions, his new teammates would possess more in the way of technical ability than those he currently shares a dressing room with but you can almost certain that he’ll get nothing like the freedom he’s currently afforded if he is to switch allegiances over the summer.
As someone who watches him toying with opposition defenders from week to week, I know I’m not alone in being baffled at the criticism he still receives from many within the game but thankfully, the last year or so have seen many previously sceptical onlookers voicing their appreciation for what he brings to the Palace side; chief amongst them the man responsible for the piece above, which lays out exactly why Wilf is likely to go from strength to strength in red and blue for a decade or more to come.
Without putting too fine a point on things, Zaha acts as a lightning rod for the Eagles, gladly shouldering a huge weight of expectation and regularly thriving when the pressure is really on. You need only look at his performances down the years to see that when the moment calls for it, the winger takes his game to another level entirely, down in large part to the knowledge that thousands in the stands are relying on him to drag the team through.
Could he go on to win trophies elsewhere? Undoubtedly. Would those triumphs generate a sense of satisfaction similar to what he’s already done with a Palace badge sitting proudly on his chest? I for one am far from sure of that.
The speculation will continue for months I’m sure but each and every time you see Zaha linked with a move to someone new, remind yourself of the piece attached at the top of the page. It may just calm your nerves.