Crystal Palace are yet to receive any offers for Wilfried Zaha who, effectively for the third summer in succession, has made clear his preference would be to move to a Champions League-qualified club if an acceptable bid is lodged.
Zaha held informal talks this week with the Palace chairman Steve Parish, who enjoys a strong relationship with the youth-team graduate, in the wake of his most productive Premier League campaign and while he fell short of submitting a transfer request, reiterated his ambition to experience life involving Europe’s elite club competition.
The bond between club and player remains strong, with the Ivory Coast winger having made 285 appearances for Palace either side of a brief and unhappy stint at Manchester United since his debut more than nine years ago. Yet, while it is highly unlikely Zaha would agitate aggressively for a move, there has been no interest lodged formally as yet, and there remains the possibility the player will be priced off the market.
While Palace are sympathetic to the player’s wishes, they would seek a considerable fee before they would consider parting with their prized asset. The 26-year-old has ended the last two seasons privately expressing a desire to test himself at a higher level, only to be persuaded to sign a new five-year contract on each occasion. His deal is worth around £130,000 a week and extends to 2023.
The situation is further complicated by the reality United would be owed a considerable proportion of the fee as part of a sell-on agreement struck when the forward returned from Old Trafford on a permanent basis for a cut-price sum in early 2015. That, and the fact Zaha is so integral to Roy Hodgson’s team, means the club are likely to be persuaded to discuss a move only for a fee well in excess of the £80m recently mooted. Indeed, it could take a nine-figure offer to prompt Palace to consider a sale.
In April Zaha told the Daily Mail: “I have to experience the Champions League. I just need the opportunity, that’s it. And I’ll do the rest.”
There is a desire at Selhurst Park to reduce the wage bill – at £117m per annum, the ninth-highest in the division – with Palace having posted pre-tax losses of £35.5m for the 2017-18 campaign in their most recent accounts. That could limit spending if no acceptable offers are tabled for Zaha or Aaron Wan-Bissaka, the England Under-21 defender who enjoyed an eye-catching first full senior season. Palace have no desire to part with the right-back, who is not in their higher bracket of earners.
Any move to re-sign Michy Batshuayi on loan for a further season will hinge upon the outcome of Chelsea’s attempts to have a two-window transfer ban overturned. The club will sell Alexander Sørloth, who has spent the past six months on loan in Belgium with Gent, and are open to offers for Jaïro Riedewald, the former Ajax defender who played such a limited role this term. There have been talks with the captain, Luka Milivojevic, over a new deal but they have yet to reach agreement, while Julián Speroni, Jason Puncheon, Bakary Sako and Pape Souaré are to leave under freedom of contract.