The seemingly never-ending saga involving Wilfried Zaha looks likely to reach something of a boiling point ahead of today’s 5pm transfer deadline, with the 26-year-old’s formal request to leave forcing the club’s hand like never before.
The winger and his representatives have grown frustrated at Palace’s repeated rejections of what Zaha sees as reasonable offers to let him go, with yesterday’s decision to turn down £70 million acting as the final straw. In terms of finance alone, I wouldn’t disagree with the assumption that it’s a fair price for him but with time now running so short, I’m not sure how Palace can feasibly be expected to adequately replace him.
Those outside the football club keep on questioning the wisdom of those behind the scenes in SE25 for not readying themselves for this eventuality but in reality, with the Eagles so up against it in terms of Financial Fair Play, there was no way of us bringing in the calibre of player needed to replace Wilfried prior to receiving the money from his departure and freeing up £120,000 a week from the wage bill.
There’s also the suggestion that Everton’s offer of £65 million + James McCarthy (who’s now signed for Palace anyway) and Cenk Tosun was entirely reasonable but with the Irishman having cost just £3 million, Tosun having publicly shunned a move to Selhurst in the past, the fact that their combined wages wouldn’t even mean a drop in the wage bill and the 25% sell on clause that’s due to Manchester United, I don’t think Steve Parish can be blamed for saying it didn’t make sense from our point of view.
There are all sorts of rumours floating around regarding the winger’s state of mind, one of which is that he’s refusing to be selected for our opening game of the season against the Toffees on a point of principle. In truth, should we buckle to his request without first sourcing at least two quality replacements (Sarr and Chalov come to mind) we’d be figuratively waving a white flag on our Premier League status before a ball has been kicked.
Say Zaha’s move isn’t sanctioned, he remains on our books due to their being no official exit clause in his contract and he refuses to take part on Saturday, what’s his next step? He can’t continue to strike until January, no matter how annoyed he may be, an act like that would set alarm bells ringing in the heads of any future manager/chairman about his professionalism. The best case scenario would see him buckle down, play hard until January and ensure that a club (whether it be Everton or anyone else of his choosing) is ready and waiting to go with a £70 million offer on the very first day of the winter window. No messing around, no deliberation from Palace, a clean break which affords us time to spend the money in a manner which isn’t reminiscent of Supermarket Sweep.
How will the landscape look in a few hours’ time? There’s no point trying to second guess this stuff anymore.