For many Crystal Palace fans, listening to the Wilfried Zaha sage has become boring. If the player hits a good patch of form, as he is doing just now, Eagles fans are told to expect him to be sold. If Zaha hits a poor run of form, as he did earlier in the year, the same fans are told that he has ‘missed his chance’ to play for a ‘big club’ due to the lengthy deals he signed at Selhurst Park. Next summer, though, Zaha will finally be out of contract.
And for Palace, the challenge is unique. Do they keep arguably the best Eagle to play for the club in modern times? Or do they cash in this summer now that they have found a young team who can cope without him? Alternatively, do they keep him until the summer of 2023 and lose him for nothing?
All options have pros and cons, but reports around Palace suggest they will go for the second option. Instead of losing Zaha on a free, they will sell this summer for a fair price. The player has stuck around South London and generally put in a good shift even when it was clear his head had been turned somewhat. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Palace are happy to try and find a positive deal that suits everyone.
The rise of the likes of Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise has left Palace confident that they could thrive in a post-Zaha world. For years, the Ivorian was the only show in town; things have changed, and the club can finally rely on other players to do some damage outside of Wilf.
However, this could mean that the club also avoids talk of an extension beyond 2023.
Is losing Wilf Zaha right for Crystal Palace?
It is hard to say – fans do not really know a Premier League era team without him in the squad. His return from Manchester United was expected to last two or three seasons; here he is still at the club many years later. However, it would be fair to say that Zaha has agitated for a move more summers than he has been content. Therefore, are Palace keen to sign him up to the end of his peak, or even his career, and listen to the same circular arguments?
Or, could that money be used to help invest in other parts of the squad, and allow Olise and Eze to take the team over and thrive as protagonists?
If Zaha is to leave Palace finally, it has to be this summer. Another year would be another year where clubs might be put off, and it might mean Palace missing out on a fee that they richly deserve for developing and sticking by Zaha.
Nobody can say that the results of the Zaha- Palace partnership has not been beneficial. However, it feels like the summer of 2022 might be the time where both player and club could look at each other and say it is time to try something new.
It is a brave new world for Palace fans of a certain age, but for once it does not seem quite so scary.