I know this isn’t something you want to hear or even think about but it is clear to me that Wilfred Zaha will leave Crystal Palace in the summer.
I accept that this is very much my opinion and is not in any way based in fact but I find it highly unlikely that Wilf will be a Palace player come September.
I think there’s more chance of me waking up next to Jennifer Lawrence at some time in the future. Very unlikely but not impossible!
The reason I said September is because I would not be surprised if he started the season with us while protracted negotiations are taking place but if I am honest I don’t even think it will come to that either.
On Sunday, Steve Parish told BBC 5 Live that as soon as our safety is secured he will sit down with Wilf and offer him a new deal that will make him the highest paid player at the club.
Very nice, but I don’t think Wilf is driven by money. Had money been the main factor in his life he would still be sitting in the Manchester United reserves instead of taking a pay cut to come back to Palace.
It is rumoured that he is on £35,000 a week and the new contract will be £100,000 a week. That is quite a signal of intent from Palace were it to be the case but that won’t be the whole picture.
A lot will depend on who we sign to take us forward next season. We’ll be losing Sakho at the end of the season, signing him on a permanent deal would be a major coup and might help temp Wilf to stay. However, Sakho would cost £20 million plus and another £100,000 a week in wages.
If Sakho’s performances continue at the same level they have been so far his value will increase and he could well demand more money to take a step down to join Palace when there would be a host of top clubs after his signature.
While I doubt sentiment will play a part in Sakho’s decision on where to go with Wilf it is different.
After the Chelsea game Wilf was quoted as saying he is “Palace through and through” and while I believe this to be genuinely true I also think he wants to win trophies and prove himself on the highest stage.
Let’s be honest, Wilf isn’t going to get Champions League football playing for Palace and he would get into the Ivory Coast team with two broken legs. Simply playing well week in, week out to get into his national team isn’t enough for him. He is practically guaranteed to play at a World Cup next summer so what would drive him?
Maybe World Cup is our main hope to keep him for next season? I believe Wilf loves Palace, I think he has a great relationship with Steve Parish and a great affinity with the fans. This could mean he would be prepared to accept a deal that would see him to stay one more season. That way he could shine at the World Cup so we could get a mega transfer fee and he could get a top transfer.
No offence to Spurs but… Spurs this summer or Barcelona or Real Madrid next summer? If I were Wilf, taking my dislike of other clubs out of the equation, I’d only consider Chelsea, Manchester City (to piss off the United fans) or Liverpool as a destination.
I really rate Klopp and they will come good sooner or later.
But, as I say, all this is just my opinion. What is certain is that Parish will offer Wilf a new contract. Wilf will either turn it down and force a move, like Bolasie, or he will sign it with clauses written in to it.
There will certainly be a relegation release clause and, if his agent had a brain in his head, a transfer release clause, Champions League team clause and the like.
What that would mean in reality is he could sign a new deal and if Spurs have qualified for the Champions League then they could buy Wilf for a fixed fee. So all a new contract would mean is we get a lot of money. Which we will in any case.
Has the failure to give Wilf a new contract last summer fuelled any resentment on his part? I think it did but it was Pardew who said Wilf hadn’t played well enough to deserve a new deal.
Sure, Parish could have overruled Pardew but that would have undermined the manager and taken away vital transfer budget funds we needed to sign Benteke.
Did Wilf deserve a new deal last summer? To be honest, no. He didn’t.
I was critical of Wilf, and Bolasie, last summer as I felt their end product wasn’t good enough. I thought their crosses were awful and shooting was woeful.
This season couldn’t have been more different. Admittedly Wilf started the season off in the same vein as last season, missing a good chance in the first game verses West Brom. Maybe he was pissed off at the time because of not getting a new contract or being allowed to talk to Spurs?
But then, offering £15 million for him was a joke when we got £27 million for Bolasie!
Since then he has knuckled down and got on with things. Most notably his performances have improved since Big Sam has arrived.
We basically have the England coaching set up, as was in September, and it must be an incentive to go to training each day and want to prove them wrong for not selecting him… In their one squad.
Even so, still an incentive!
It is widely known that Sammy Lee is a very good coach so I am sure everything is paying off. We all knew it would take time but even so big clubs can’t offer the best coaching set up.
So what does all this really mean?
I think Wilf will sign a new contract, not doing so would risk his relationship with the club and the fans. There will be a clause in the contract for either a minimum fee, Champions League team or both. And I think he’ll leave late summer after we’ve sourced a replacement.
If it happens, he will leave with my best wishes because he has knuckled down and got on with it. He has shown passion and that he genuinely cares about the club even if he wants to play at a higher level.
He could have thrown a strop like Bolasie but chose to do things the right way and for that, I have to wish him well.
As the great girls group Bananarama once said “it’s not what you do but the way that you do it!”
In the same way if Sakho doesn’t sign for us at the end of the season I’ll always cheer him if he plays against us and be grateful for what he has given us so far. Without him we’d be up shit creek without a paddle and a hole in the bottom of the boat!
But this might not happen. Wilf might sign a new deal, we might sign Sakho and things could be wonderful next season.
But that wouldn’t be Palace, would it?
I don’t have a crystal ball, the clanking sound you hear are the keys in my pocket. Honest!