Time for Eagles to let Zaha fly the nest

Crystal Palace
Wilfried Zaha

Crystal Palace must let Wilfried Zaha depart Selhurst Park in January as the Ivory Coast winger looks to further his career.

Zaha has been Palace’s standout player for the past four seasons and it’s clear why the club has done everything to prevent him leaving.

The winger came through the ranks with the Eagles, making his senior debut against Cardiff in March 2010, and quickly became an integral figure.

He featured 41 times in the Championship during his first full season at senior level and his form over the following three campaigns earned a move to Manchester United.

Zaha’s career stalled at Old Trafford due to several different factors, having arrived just after the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, and he spent the second half of his debut season on-loan at Cardiff.

United agreed to loan him back to Palace in 2014-15 and he secured a permanent return in January of that season.

The Eagles hugely benefitted from his presence as they earned their highest league finish, 10th, since 1990-91.

His return to Selhurst Park worked for both parties and Zaha was clearly grateful that the club would welcome him back with open arms.

The Ivory Coast international got his career back on track with his boyhood club and his goals, scoring 28 over the past four seasons, have single-handedly kept the Eagles safe in the Premier League.

There is no doubt that Zaha has more than repaid the debt he owed to Palace after they took him back.

The 27-year-old is now in the prime years of his career and needs to be playing at the highest level.

Zaha spoke of a desire to join a club involved in European football over the summer and Palace did everything within their power to prevent that from happening.

Borussia Dortmund, Tottenham and Arsenal were understood to be interested, however, they weren’t prepared to match Palace’s huge valuation.

Despite being denied the chance to move on, Zaha has acted with decorum, unlike others who have kicked up a fuss in the same situation, and Palace have once again benefitted from his performances this season.

As the January transfer window draws closer, the forward is going to be in the headlines with links to a host a different clubs.

Chelsea’s transfer ban has been lifted and they are expected to make a move, while Spurs and Arsenal could still do with someone of his ilk.

Losing Zaha mid-season would be a big blow for Palace and Roy Hodgson but Zaha deserves to have his wishes respected after giving his all for the team.