Crystal Palace and Ivory Coast winger Wilfried Zaha has been one of the biggest enigmas of English football in recent years. He made a bright start to his career at Palace and earned a big move to Manchester United in 2013.
The winger made just two Premier League appearances for the Red Devils, before re-joining Palace on loan and also spending a season on loan at Cardiff.
In 2015 the winger returned to Palace on a permanent basis after being considered a flop at United.
Zaha has been more successful back with the Eagles. This season he has been particularly impressive with a new-found consistency.
Finally fulfilling his potential
The 24-year-old has always had talent and that is why he ended up at United. However, what he has struggled to do is produce on a consistent basis in the Premier League. This season he has started to fulfil some of his potential, scoring six goals and producing nine assists.
Those numbers are by far the best of his top-flight career so far. The winger’s display in scoring and creating a goal for Christian Benteke in a 2-1 shock win at league leaders Chelsea illustrates just what he can do. It also showed that he is now maturing into the player that Manchester United thought they were buying in 2013.
Granted he has gained far more experience since his ill-fated spell at Old Trafford. Some at United may be left with regrets he left the club, though.
Attracted the attention of bigger clubs
Zaha’s performance towards the end of last season reportedly attracted the attention of high-flying Tottenham last summer. Palace were not interested in selling the winger last summer and told their London rivals he was not for sale.
However, reports in the morning British press suggest that Zaha believes he is ready for a move to a bigger club in the summer. Spurs are not the only so called bigger club to be linked with the winger in recent months. Liverpool are also being linked with a move for the winger, whether there is any truth in that story is unclear.
However, one thing that is clear is that Zaha is developing into a player that is likely to attract the attention of clubs with more money and higher profiles than the Eagles.
The club have talked about offering Zaha a new deal in the summer if of course, the club stays in the Premier League this season. Offering Zaha a new deal will obviously be the club’s hierarchy attempting to dissuade the star from leaving the club.
Considering he failed to impress at United earlier in his career, Zaha will be very wary of leaving the Eagles a second time for a bigger club. However, he has gained far more experience since his move to United and looks more like a Premier League player now.
Needs to help Palace survive
Crystal Palace boss Sam Allardyce has stated in the press that Zaha needs to put the transfer talk out of his head and concentrate on helping Palace avoid relegation to the Championship for next season.
Palace are currently 16th in the Premier League table and just four points clear of the relegation zone. The Eagles have been in good form of late, though, winning their last four straight Premier League games after a shaky start to Allardyce’s reign as boss.
Allardyce did inherit a talented squad, with Zaha amongst the most talented players in the Eagles squad. That talent is starting to show, but they have a very tough fixture list for the rest of the campaign.
The Eagles still have to face Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United, not to mention a trip to a resurgent Leicester City.
That run of games look tough, but the Eagles showed they can upset the applecart with that weekend win at Chelsea. The Eagles are currently odds of 8/1 to be relegated this season.
Palace will fancy their chances of surviving the drop this season. If they do then no doubt Zaha will have had a big hand or foot in that survival. Whether Palace stays up or goes down, I have a feeling that Zaha’s head will be turned in the summer and he could well move for a big money fee.
Will Wilfried Zaha be at Crystal Palace next season?
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