Plenty of column inches have already been dictated to Wilfried Zaha in the wake of news that he’s put pen to paper on a five-year contract extension at Crystal Palace but no article will better summarise the importance of the deal than this piece from The Independent’s Ed Malyon.
As a Palace fan himself, Ed is better placed than almost anyone within the British sporting press to comment on the special relationship the club enjoys with Wilfried Zaha, a fact that becomes plainly obvious within the opening few paragraphs of his column.
For all the talk of moves to Chelsea or Spurs this summer, Palace were intent on keeping hold of their star man and thankfully, Zaha himself wasn’t set on leaving, regardless of what you’ve read in any of the red-top papers since the transfer window opened in May. Yes, this new deal represents a huge financial outlay for Crystal Palace FC but ask any of their fans and they’ll happily admit to not begrudging a penny of the reported £130,000-a-week salary that Wilfried now takes home.
The reasons for that sense of deep-rooted admiration from the stands run far deeper than the winger’s output on the field. In every way imaginable, Zaha represents what is good about our club. A product of our academy, he has grown from a boy to a man in our colours, possessing a mixture of joyful exuberance and relentless drive which has endeared him to the Palace faithful from the moment he made his debut in red and blue.
Routinely kicked, abused and taunted over his troubled spell at Manchester United by opposing fans and players alike, Wilf knows that in Palace, he’s got a family rather than an employer. Fans everywhere (including myself) are lightning quick to jump to his defence whenever someone has a pop on social media, songs are belted out vociferously both home and away to remind him of our backing and at management and board level, the 25-year-old knows that he’s our most prized asset. We may not be able to offer European football (yet) but when you weigh everything up, it’s difficult not to feel as though the Ivorian is in the best place possible for his long-term future.
After months of chatter and baseless speculation, Wilfried Zaha is “all Palace” and I for one couldn’t be happier about it.