Ever since coming through the ranks at Crystal Palace in 2010, Wilfred Zaha has always been someone that gets fans out of their seats due to the pure excitement he brings to the game.
In recent seasons, his moments of brilliance have reportedly attracted interest from the likes of Borussia Dortmund, PSG and Arsenal, according to Transfermarkt, but a move has never materialised. Following his underwhelming two-year spell at Manchester United, have clubs turned against Zaha due to his last big move and his lack of consistency?
In his time at Selhurst Park, Zaha has always been the poster boy for the Eagles and the name on the back of everybody’s shirt. His quick turn of pace, silky movement on the ball and his ability to turn a game on its head are just some of Zaha’s standout attributes.
Key moments that spring to mind was his brilliance against Hull City in 2016, his darting run against Huddersfield Town two years later and his goal against Burnley in 2019 where he baffled the opposition defence. This season, at the time of writing, Zaha has nine goals and one assist to his name which has been some of his best-attacking numbers in his career so far.
The most notable seasons in South-East London came in the 16/17 and 18/19 seasons when the Ivorian accumulated 15 goal contributions in the respective seasons.
The limelight on Zaha has been slightly taken off him for the first time in a while due to the reinforcements that were purchased in the summer. The likes of Michael Olise, Odsonne Edouard and Conor Gallagher are just a few who have shone in a front foot Patrick Viera side.
In the summer, Palace had a large amount of their squad out of contract and opted to not renew many of their deals. This meant that Palace had to heavily invest in the squad which had not been done for a long time and it gave them the chance to bring in young, hungry talent who had a point to prove. They did this tremendously well and are now seeing the benefits, with the Eagles hoping to record a top-half finish for the first time in their history.
With the attacking talent now on show at Selhurst Park, clubs may look at the younger players blossoming there instead of Zaha who is soon approaching 30.
His big move to Manchester United did come at the wrong time with Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure at Old Trafford changing the club completely. Even though Zaha was signed before Ferguson’s departure, David Moyes did not manage him properly and a loan move to Cardiff City didn’t support his development.
Big moves for certain players often come at the wrong time and that was a problem for Zaha as he struggled to adapt to life in Manchester. It is usually the case when a ‘smaller’ club has a player, who many believe should be playing at a higher level, and they make the price tag astronomically high which denies the player a dream move.
For the bigger sides, there is often scepticism when buying from a club who are in the lower mid-table positions as they do not want to pay a big sum of money for someone who may not be a success.
With a big move unlikely for Zaha as he approaches his 30s, this is a chance for him to cement his legacy at Palace and become a legend for the club he started with. Zaha was on the brink of joining Arsenal in 2019, however the Gunners chose to sign Lille’s Nicolas Pepe, despite then manager Unai Emery wanting to sign the Palace player.
Zaha is a sensational player, but his lack of consistency has potentially made him not reach the very top he can certainly make himself a legend at Selhurst Park.