Wilfried Zaha spoke to Sky Sports’ Alex Scott ahead of Palace’s trip to Watford yesterday afternoon, directly addressing the mountains of speculation which had seen him linked with moves to Chelsea and Tottenham all summer long.
Whilst Steve Parish, Roy Hodgson and most importantly Zaha himself had never suggested that a transfer offer was ever being given serious consideration, the winger’s decision to reject the contract extension put in front of him at the start of the summer allowed countless newspapers and websites to suggest that he wanted out of Selhurst Park for one of the so-called “Big Six”.
Admittedly, the price-tag of £70 million placed on Zaha’s head by Steve Parish worked well enough to stop either Chelsea or Spurs from firming up their supposed interest with a formal offer, all of which brings us to the present day, with Zaha having happily put pen to paper on a five-year deal which sees him become the club’s highest-paid star.
There are plenty of neutrals who struggle to wrap their heads around a player of Zaha’s quality being happy to stay put in SE25 but his story is not comparable to any of the bright young talents operating outside of the Premier League’s top six today.
Pundits (and abrasive TalkSPORT rent-a-gobs) may ask questions of Zaha’s “ambition” but having seen life on the other side of the fence after becoming Sir Alex Ferguson’s final signing as Manchester United boss, he shouldn’t be scolded for wanting to continue his career at a club where he feels truly comfortable.
At Palace, Wilfried is close to his family, has the love and adulation of the club’s supporters and is backed relentlessly by manager and chairman alike. In the all or nothing environment of professional football you’re always going to have detractors but when all is said and done, Zaha will be best served by doing what is right for him on a personal level.
If he felt the decision to sign a new deal with Crystal Palace was a “no brainer” who has any right to tell him otherwise?