Thursday afternoon saw reports in both The Guardian and The Telegraph suggesting that Crystal Palace wouldn’t be bullied into selling Wilfried Zaha this summer and as a result, had put a £100 million price-tag on his head, much to the amusement of neutral football fans across the country.
It seems, in the hysterical world of social media, a football club quoting a sky-high figure for the services of their prized asset has to be spun into some sort of joke, worthy of countless laughing emojis and comments like “The game’s gone mad” rather than being seen for what it is; a hands-off warning to any club who now hope to come in with a low bid in an attempt to force Palace’s hand.
Whilst Wilfried (and his agent’s) desire to move away from Selhurst Park does alter the landscape somewhat from the Eagles’ perspective, the fact remains that Steve Parish and Roy Hodgson still hold a rather strong bargaining position ahead of what is set to be a tumultuous summer window. Zaha, for all the talk of making the leap to a Champions League regular, may struggle to find anyone who’s willing to match his current six-figure weekly salary and with four years left to run on his current contract in SE25, it seems highly unlikely that any English club will stump up the sort of money Palace would be looking for to willingly wave him goodbye.
In that sense, the reported price-tag of £100 million is nothing more than a warning to any potential tyre-kickers that we aren’t willing to have our time wasted with offers of £30-40 million. To those outside south London, our valuation may seem ridiculous but in the same breath as many will scoff, the same people will claim that Palace would be done for without Zaha in their side. With Premier League football worth in excess of £100 million a year to the clubs who sit within its confines, the sum really isn’t that fanciful.
There is a significant difference between “asking to leave” and handing in a formal transfer request; at the moment, Wilfried and his representatives have only opted for the first of those two scenarios, leaving the situation simmering rather than boiling over into chaos. Sadly for you and me, this story is likely to run and run for weeks to come.
How will it end? Your guess is as good as mine.