There’s a towering bastion of talent down in south London: a man fit for the entertainment of kings and one who flies the flag for both football as well as his hometown neighbourhood with immense dominance.
Children skip through the streets of Croydon, gaily singing his name as adults swoon over the very thought of his sumptuous stepovers. The man is Wilfried Zaha.
His many talents haven’t gone unnoticed, however, and the 25-year-old Ivorian has long attracted the gaze of England’s biggest clubs.
For time immemorial, if memory serves, Tottenham Hotspur have propped up the list of his player-snatching suitors only to have made repeatedly undervalued offers for the winger.
Whilst a step up to better paying Premier League title contenders may seem the obvious choice for Zaha, the fella will know he shouldn’t leave Crystal Palace without caution.
Having been Sir Alex Ferguson’s last ever signing with a £10m move to Manchester United in 2013, Palace’s poster-boy has certainly flirted with the big guys before. Leaving without disapproval from Palace fans, Zaha’s adventure to the top was sadly met without success.
His relationship with David Moyes seemingly turned sour and the Scotsman failed to award the lad the time and guidance he needed.
A brief loan out to Cardiff City preceded a return to Selhurst Park and so Wilfried Zaha started again.
Since then, he’s played at the very top of his game; adding finishing and a real footballing brain to his already impressive repertoire.
Naturally, then, talk of a top six move is reworking its way around the transfer gossip columns. We’ve looked at the four most likely clubs to earn the chap’s signature and considered how well he’d fare at each.
Daniel Levy would be the happiest party involved after this move and he’d finally have laid claim to his long-term obsession. This would be a switch for undoubtedly less money than Zaha is worth, but would surely be the one most likely to offer him much desired game time.
Although, having said that, the Spurs midfield is already busy with talented footballers and Zaha might struggle initially to break his way into the team.
Once he succeeds, however, playing alongside the likes of Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen would be a fantastic experience for him and we can see the high calibre of the Spurs midfield working well with Zaha on its wings.
Linking up with Harry Kane – who would be more than confident dealing with powerful, driving crosses from the flank – would be beneficial for all concerned and drive Zaha’s assists tally through the roof.
Spurs’ competent fullbacks would ensure the winger has cover should he lose the ball deep inside the opposition half while also providing threatening, overlapping partnerships when on the offensive.
The second of three London clubs reportedly showing an interest in Zaha, Arsenal are another team with a midfield that stands out as the focal unit.
However, the Palace star is comfortably good enough to work his way into the Gunners’ current squad, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan being the only genuine candidate to definitely keep his place ahead of him.
More importantly, though, should Zaha choose to move, it’ll be in favour of a big side who can challenge for Champions League places.
Perhaps Burnley would be the better option next season, Wilf.
Should he want to stay in England’s capital, Chelsea look like Zaha’s final option. The Blues are obviously at a patchy point in their history and may not be the most attractive move by the summer.
With Conte soon to depart, who knows which gaffer will be taking the reins next at Stamford Bridge?
We can’t see the Palace man nestling his way into the west London squad, nor can we see Chelsea fans embracing the fella’s move after his previous two goals against the club resulted in their humiliating back-to-back losses at the hands of The Eagles.
By far and away the most appealing move for any footballer currently operating in the Premier League, but could Zaha make the cut?
Many people had similar doubts about Raheem Sterling, but the former Liverpool man has gone on instead to prove just what hard work under Pep Guardiola can do and now flourishes in sky blue.
It’s tempting to argue that reduced game time would be worth the experience of Guardiola’s hands-on coaching for a season, whilst Zaha adapts to his new level and inferior role at a bigger club. The move would certainly benefit the Ivorian, but he’s a man who thrives off the passion and adoration of his fans at Palace.
Perhaps switching to City would be simply too large a pond for this fish to swim in. A return to Manchester – this time the blue, more successful half, of course – would help give Zaha that extra technical nous simply not attainable at his current level.
But, it would undoubtedly be a big change for a footballer currently blossoming and doing just fine as things are.
It all bodes the question: should the winger move at all? He has time on his side and an entire club in adoration of him. Zaha is pivotal to the Palace set up and hasn’t yet found better form in his entire career. Losing that support might have a negative effect on the player’s sense of confidence and assurance, so upping sticks would certainly be a risky move.
We know Palace fans won’t want to lose him, but what do you think would be best for the star’s future?
It’s a happy dilemma whatever path he chooses and we can’t wait for many more seasons of dazzling trickery from Wilfried Zaha.