Palace hope Zaha gamble pays off
Crystal Palace held their nerve in the battle to keep star man Wilfried Zaha in the transfer window but will it prove to be a the right decision?
The transfer saga surrounding the winger has gone on throughout the summer with a host of clubs queuing up to try and land him.
At first, north London giants Arsenal appeared to be leading the chase for the 26-year-old, and he wanted to join them, but the men who hold the purse strings did not loosen them enough and that move never materialised.
Everton also were very keen and made a massive offer which would have smashed their transfer record to smithereens but again they did not receive any encouragement from Palace, who were determined to hold out for the £80m they wanted.
Palace were working on the fact that they got a deal worth £50m for the services of defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka and, on the back of one good season with the club, it made sense to them to hold out for top money for Zaha.
The Ivory coast international has been their star player for season after season and they were not letting him go unless someone came up with the full £80m.
Eagles boss Roy Hodgson says he is delighted to still have his star man at the club as everyone at Selhurst Park would rather keep the player than get the money.
Hodgson, admitted though that Zaha was not happy about seeing a move collapse but says he will get over it in the fullness of time and he will pick him for their first game of the season – against the team that wanted him – Everton.
He said: “He is a professional. He realises that. He is committed to the club.”
Palace now face the very real prospect of keeping a player who no longer wants to play for them and that in itself could have a detrimental effect on the side and rest of the players in it.
The Eagles have taken a gamble that Hodgson can talk Zaha around to producing his usual high standard of football but it is a gamble that, if it doesn’t pay off, could see him moping around the first team wishing he was somewhere else.
Zaha has been vital in the club’s two successful battles against relegation in the past couple of seasons where he has produced dynamic and motivated performances for the club.
Any drop in that motivation could lead to disaster. Hodgson and the owners will be keeping their fingers crossed they have made the right call.