Whether or not you choose to believe it given the source of the story, last night saw reports emerge to suggest that Mamadou Sakho had called a team-wide meeting with Wilfried Zaha on the eve of the new Premier League season in which the winger had agreed to give his all to the club until January at the very least.
The fact that The Sun were the publication leading the charge on this does make me wonder how truthful a tale it is but on the face of things, it certainly seems feasible. Whilst the likes of Steve Parish and Roy Hodgson have routinely been asked for comment on their star player’s future, his Palace teammates are often left as passive bystanders, with little to no say in the calls that are made regarding their most talented teammate’s selection.
If Sakho did indeed grab the bull by the horns and provoke a positive reaction from Zaha, it could well have secured us a few extra points in the run-up to Christmas. Admittedly, the wide-man didn’t start on the opening day of the season but it was quite clear that his omission from the XI was due to lack of fitness following a late return to pre-season training rather than a refusal to be selected. When he did make his way onto the pitch to replace Jordan Ayew on 65 minutes, he was roundly applauded by the Palace faithful, another tick in the box which is likely to push the 26-year-old to give 100% between now and the New Year.
With that 25 minute cameo under his belt alongside another full week of training, Zaha could well be in line for a place in the starting XI for our trip to face to Sheffield United on Sunday. If Sakho’s words (alongside those of his other teammates) have truly sunk in, there’s no reason why we wouldn’t see the same Wilfried Zaha that we’ve all become accustomed to watching over the last nine years.
It’s a far from ideal situation for the players, coaches, supporters or Zaha himself but everyone involved owes it to themselves to make the best of it for as long as necessary.