Some Arsenal fans are getting carried away with the speculation surrounding Arsenal’s apparent interest in Crystal Palace forward, Wilfred Zaha.
The press have suggested that Arsenal coach Unai Emery, has identified the Ivorian international as his top target, which makes for an interesting story and sells a few extra papers, but the truth is that Arsenal’s interest has been like warm at best.
A bid of £40m is a halfhearted gesture at best and like the infamous Suarez bid of £40m plus £1, it serves only to show that Arsenal are issuing a statement that they have more funds available than reports suggested.
Either that or it was an offer intended as a smokescreen to divert attention away from their intended targets, which would be rather clever.
Seriously, can you see Arsenal spending £80m on a player that couldn’t hack it at Manchester United. Wilfred Zaha is a talent, that much is undeniable, but a few good seasons as a stand out player in an average Palace side isn’t enough to part with this type of money.
Overrated is a word that comes to mind when I think of Wilfred Zaha, who can fluctuate between exceptional, average and anonymous in his range of performances.
He tends to look for sympathy from the ref and is always contesting his treatment at the hands of others, often clutching something whilst sat on the ground after some form of contact.
Yet, he has his supporters who clamour for more protection for the striker. It’s easy to imagine that this athletic young chap was made of glass the way pundits and players are trying to place him in protective custody.
Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness said after last season’s clash with Watford, in which Etienne Capoue escaped a red card for a particularly savage tackle.
“Capoue set out to nail Zaha”.
I’m not sure that was the case, but it set in motion a movement to wrap the Ivorian in cotton wool and alert referees to the merest bump, nudge or shoulder barge. Suddenly Zaha had assumed diva status by constantly complaining and begging the ref for his undivided attention.
In August 2018, Palace defender Martin Kelly flew the flag for the battered forward by saying:
“Teams are seeing Wilf as our star player now and are obviously trying to nullify him at the start of games by doubling up or leaving late challenges on him.”
“The refs have got to look after Wilf the way all top players are looked after for all top teams. We have got to keep him fit. He is our main threat.”
Boo hoo, so doesn’t Raheem Sterling receive the same vigorous attention ? Yes, of course he does, but the difference is most people can’t catch him to bundle him over and if they do, he just gets up and carries on.
No one was brutalised more than the late Jose Antonio Reyes during the course of a game and it was no secret that United boss Alex Ferguson, told his players to knock him up in the air every time he got the ball.
The other side of Wilfred Zaha is his own management of his situation, which requires a tweak. Having signed a lucrative 5 year contract extension with Crystal Palace for a reported £130,000 per week, he was tempted into talking to the press, where he admitted his desire to find new and bigger challenges.
This move was marvelously naive and showed a total disregard for the club that stuck by him even after his ill fated move to Manchester United. After he flopped, Palace welcomed him back into their arms and resurrected his career.
His brother, Judicael, has been outspoken since Zaha indicated he wanted to leave South London and should have been gagged early on to avoid the current ill feeling.
Wilfred Zaha is just another in a long line of footballers, who consider themselves far more important than the teams they play for and if Arsenal want to throw their money away on an unproven diva with superiority issues, who needs 24 hour personal protection, then they should splash the cash.
Some Arsenal fans are saying that he would solve a number of problems, I just think he’d create more than they have, want or need. If Zaha has chosen to bite the generous hand of Palace, would he show Arsenal any more loyalty. Doubt it !