Sam Allardyce has urged Wilfried Zaha to “rely on its own experience and make his own decision on his future with Crystal Palace expecting to field offers from rival Premier League clubs for the Ivory Coast winger this summer.
Zaha, who joined Palace on a permanent basis in 2015 after a sad spell at Manchester United, was the club’s most consistent attacking player the past two seasons, with the current campaign yielding six goals and nine assists for the date of its most productive. Tottenham Hotspur, who Palace face at Selhurst Park on Wednesday night and had an offer of around £21 million of Zaha dismissed out of hand by the Palace last August, are expected to revive their interest at the end of the season.
While the player is already signed to a long-term contract, negotiations begin soon on a new contract which would see Zaha as the player the best paid in the Palace of his history. However, it is to be feared that the youth team graduate, who joined the club when he was 12 years old, may seek Champions League football or be advised to continue his development abroad.
“I hope that it is not easy to turn Wilf’s head,” said Allardyce. “Wilf himself is an adult now. He has seen a lot of what happens in football from a very young age, has known a glory that has not altogether, and then come back here. Then it receives an opinion from outside the club, I hope he draws on his own experiences and makes its own decisions rather than relying on what others say it should do. Of course, we would like that he had to stay at Palace for the foreseeable future.
“As far as I know, Wilf contract has a certain time to run. The summer will bring what it brings, if it is us, the negotiation of a new contract and him wanting to stay, or some outrageous offers to come along. But he needs to stay here and play each week, and be the key man for Crystal Palace better. It was only since coming back from the Organization. It’s getting closer to the final product. But I’m not in control [if he stays].”
We spoke of the Palace being prepared to accept £40m, although the Parish has always made clear that he did not intend to sell. Allardyce has suggested that the costs would be well below an acceptable price “in the market today”.
“But I hope that nobody bids,” he said. “The problem we have at the Palace, and to every club, is that it is like the housing market. You may be thinking, oh goodie, I bought this house for this amount, and I sold it, but then you go into the same market [for a replacement].
“Stay with what you have, man. You are the dice in a dangerous area, unless you’re smart enough, and can keep it pretty quiet, to do your business before you sell. But it is almost impossible nowadays. But, look, we haven’t had an offer yet. If we are talking about an offer, we can have that conversation [the player]. For the moment, I just want to see Wilf on the ground, keeping himself in the headlines for the right reasons for the team. Who will be the hero of Wednesday night? This is what I want to know. Can we find another hero?”
Allardyce, who fears that he has lost James Tomkins to the rest of the season with an ankle injury sustained at Liverpool, believes that his team of the series of six victories in eight matches – including victories against Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal – is “the best series of results on the long Premier League career, I’ve had”. Mamadou Sakho will return to the side against Spurs.