Roy Hodgson has bad news for Crystal Palace fans
Crystal Palace are currently locked in a bitter relegation scrap, but manager Roy Hodgson admits his task might get even more difficult in January. The former England boss knows that Wilfried Zaha may be bound for Tottenham or Arsenal once the winter transfer window opens.
Hodgson has admitted that Palace must be “prepared” for other clubs to express interest in Zaha, and several other of his key players in January. With all due respect to his Eagle teammates, Zaha will drive the most interest by far. His pace, skill on the ball and ability to score goals will make him a very attractive commodity for clubs fighting for Champions League qualification.
Both Tottenham and Arsenal have expressed varying degrees of interest in him previously. Spurs, in particular, pushed hard to get a deal done for the excellent winger this summer. Mauricio Pochettino’s club were repeatedly told Zaha wasn’t for sale. In the end, he signed a new deal with Palace that Eagles’ supporters hoped would keep him at the club for years to come.
Unfortunately, the club’s disastrous start to the season has caused everyone to rethink things. Zaha is more likely to leave because he sees just how far Palace need to progress to become even a mid-table Premier League club.
The officials at Selhurst Park see just how much work needs to be done as well. Crystal Palace aren’t just a player or two away from becoming a legitimate European football contender. They know a complete overhaul of the squad will likely be required. Generating somewhere in excess of £30 million pounds from a sale of Zaha would give them some flexibility to start their rebuild in earnest.
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Of course, selling Zaha does make Hodgson’s goal of staying up even more of a longshot. Officials at Palace may decide that keeping him is the only way to give the club a legitimate shot at staying in the Premier League next season. That’s a gamble too though. If they’re relegated to the Championship then Zaha will almost certainly leave for a much smaller fee next summer.
At the very least, Tottenham and Arsenal will test Palace’s feelings about the player in January. He’s got the ability to help either North London club push on and secure their spot in the top four this season.
Arsenal’s interest will likely depend on the respective futures of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. If the Gunners elect to part with the star duo in January, Zaha could be purchased as a potential replacement. Arsene Wenger could do much worse.
Tottenham’s interest in Zaha is much more certain. They have a clear need for another attacking talent to play alongside Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli in the Spurs’ midfield. If Zaha become available, Mauricio Pochettino won’t hesitate to go to Daniel Levy and push for a significant bid.
The sad reality for Crystal Palace is that holding on to Wilfried Zaha all season may not be in the club’s best interest. That’s a bitter pill to swallow, but a move to Spurs or Arsenal may give them much-needed transfer funds to set their club on the right course for the long haul.