The last few weeks have seen Palace fans taking part in running battles across social media with Arsenal supporters over the true “value” of the Eagles’ talisman Wilfried Zaha and whilst many remain at loggerheads, this piece has summed up the situation better than anything else I’ve seen to date.
In a summer when the 26-year-old is spearheading the Ivory Coast’s African Cup of Nations campaign, (he scored the all-important winner in their 1-0 triumph over Mali last night) many Gunners refuse to Palace valuing their academy graduate at anything more than £40 million; as if we should bend over backwards to accommodate their interest in snatching him away.
For those of a red and blue persuasion, the price-tag is simply explained. Premier League football is worth at least £100 million a season and each and every year, Zaha plays a huge part in keeping our place at the top table. He is the go-to attacking outlet, the one who eyes are drawn towards every time the chips are down and without putting too fine a point on it, it’s almost impossible to place a tangible value on that sort of individual impact.
That’s not to say that I and thousands of others can’t understand the perspective of those on the other side of the negotiating table. For Arsenal and pretty much every other club in the Premier League, the purchase of Zaha would be seen as a “luxury” addition, the sort of move you make when you’re looking to get bums off seats and add some real flair to your side. The going rate for that sort of player comes in at between £40-50 million, leading to scoffs at Steve Parish’s valuation but there is no harm in admitting that there’s genuine logic to both arguments without being written off as some sort of crackpot.
In truth, Zaha has made a rod for his own back by becoming practically indispensable to Palace. Many of us, myself included, struggle to envisage a successful Premier League campaign without him playing a huge part in it from beginning to end. The mere thought of navigating all 38 fixtures without Wilfried is at best daunting and at worst downright terrifying. Will we receive the sort of offer that will be seen as realistic? It looks unlikely as things stand. That is far from great for Zaha on a personal level but deep down I’m sure he too understands that we as a football club are being placed between a rock and a hard place.
How does this saga end? Your guess is as good as mine but I’d wager it won’t conclude with Arsenal paying anything close to the £80 million we’re currently looking for to let our star man fly the nest.