The narrative adopted by the national press to drive talk of a Crystal Palace exit for Wilfried Zaha centred around the belief that the winger was flat-out refusing to sign a new contract at Selhurst Park but during last Friday’s press conference, manager Roy Hodgson reminded those who’d gathered to listen that talks between the club and the 25-year-old are still taking place.
Despite agreeing a bumper five-year deal with Wilfried in the summer of 2017, his performances throughout the following campaign, coupled with an increased level of interest in him from the likes of Tottenham, Chelsea and Dortmund led to the club hatching a plan to negotiate an even better contract for the academy graduate. Clearly, our first offering wasn’t quite what Zaha and his agent had in mind but if Roy’s musings on the subject are anything to go by, the talks are far from dead in the water just yet.
Plenty of neutrals and pundits have scoffed at Palace placing a £70 million price-tag on Zaha’s head this summer, conveniently forgotten the wide-man’s huge importance to us both tactically and mentally from week to week. It’s a well-known statistic already but the simple fact that Crystal Palace amassed a grand total of zero points without him last season highlights how vital his presence is to our hopes of survival.
It’s not that we haven’t got a host of other hugely talented players; but when you have someone of Wilfried Zaha’s ability within your ranks, it stands to reason that you’d play to his strengths whenever possible. Ask any of his teammates and they’ll tell you how pivotal he was last season; the usual cockiness and self-assurance of your average Premier League player goes out of the window when those who play alongside Zaha talk about what he brings to the table, that alone should be enough to convince any sceptics that he’s worth every penny of that £70 million valuation.
We may well find that this season is the last we’ll see of Wilfried before he goes on to play for a truly massive club and if that is the case, he’ll go with the blessing of the vast majority. That being said, it was good to see Roy Hodgson come out and completely dispel the stories the likes of James Nursey has been making up for months. I’ve missed the sense of sanity that the gaffer brings.