Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha looks set to ‘shun’ contract talks with Crystal Palace in favour of securing a free transfer to a Premier League club competing in the UEFA Champions League next season, according to reports.
Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea have all been heavily linked with a move for Zaha, who is in the final year of his current deal at Selhurst Park. The Eagles are thought to be keen on entering contract talks with the Ivorian winger, but it is looking increasingly likely that Zaha will leave the club on a free transfer next summer.
The 29-year-old was previously linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium but the Gunners had a £40million bid rejected by Palace, resulting in Arsenal signing his Ivory Coast teammate Nicolas Pepe for £72million instead. Zaha has admitted in the past that he has always been an Arsenal fan, which could give the Gunners an edge in a potential transfer fight with their Premier League rivals.
As previously reported by Fabrizio Romano, Zaha’s agents were exploring options for the player throughout the summer transfer window as his contract continues to run down with Palace. The Ivory Coast international has enjoyed a strong start to the 2022/23 campaign, scoring five goals and providing one assist in nine appearances.
Mikel Arteta was thought to be keen on adding a new winger to his squad over the summer but technical director Edu was unable to meet the Spaniard’s demands in the transfer market. Speaking on The Five Podcast, journalist David Ornstein believes that Zaha is now holding out to see what happens, and could leave south London on a free transfer when his contract runs out in 2023
Ornstein said: “Palace would dearly love to sign Zaha to to a new contract, I’m sure. But with free agency looming and he’s never had that big move that many anticipated.
“Of course he went to Manchester United and it didn’t work out but since then we’ve seen Arsenal linked with him, we’ve seen Tottenham at various points, and we’ve seen Chelsea last summer. That move hasn’t happened.
“Palace value him so highly as they know without him there’s a good chance they’d be in a relegation scrap. So they’ve always set a very high asking price.”
There is set to be plenty of interest in Zaha next summer but ultimately it could come down to which clubs qualify for the UEFA Champions League. Ornstein added: “There’ll be a number of clubs who will look at him and wonder if they can get him for nothing in the summer of 2023.
“There’ll be conversations I’m sure. Many in the game feel he’ll hold out and go as a free-agent and play in the Champions League.”
Palace boss Patrick Vieira has discussed Zaha’s contract situation, stating the Eagles will do ‘everything’ to keep hold of their star attacker. “There is speculation on all good players at the end of their contract,” said Vieira.
“All we can do is show him the love we have for him. The way he’s been playing, I think he’s sending back the love as well.
“There is no trouble or losing energy on that situation. We know how important he is for us and I think he understands that he’s a big player at this football club. We expect a lot from him and Wilfried loves to have that kind of pressure on his shoulders.
“We will see what will happen, but we will do everything now to keep him at our football club.”