Crystal Palace to play hardball over Zaha transfer

Crystal Palace Selhurst Park

Crystal Palace co-chairman Steve Parish insists the club will not sell starlet Wilfried Zaha for less than £20 million.

The club have just hired Ian Holloway as manager – the former Blackpool boss takes over the reigns at Selhurst Park form Dougie Freedman who took over from Owen Coyle at Bolton Wanderers last month.

Holloway now faces a tough test to keep 19-year-old Zaha at the club – Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool are all in the race for the youngster’s signature in January.

But the new manager has his chairman’s backing – Parish stated his intention to keep the player at the club and even suggested they would be prepared to turn down an offer of £20 million for the Ivorian who represents England at youth level.

“If someone came in with £20m to spend then it would be very difficult to turn down but we might still say no,” stated the chairman.

He continued,

“Wilfried is our talisman, the best player in this league. My plan for January is to turn my phone off and go into hibernation. Then I won’t be able to listen to any offers and we will come out of the month intact.”

Holloway will feel re-assured by Parish’s claims but I wonder whether there is an element of ‘hard-ball’ being played here – the Premier League’s top clubs are vying for the young man who is tipped to be a future England superstar.

I’d even be inclined to suggest the chairman is even publicly naming his price – further exacerbating the bidding war that is looking increasingly likely to ensue, come January.

Initial reports suggested Arsenal were prepared to offer Palace £9 million with add-on clauses, whilst North London rivals Tottenham prepare to go head-to-head to match the Gunners’ offer.

Liverpool’s well-documented need for another striker might see Brendan Rodgers attempt to keep the pace with the Londoners and, whilst Manchester United are also reportedly interested, they’ve got an abundance of attacking talent already and I don’t see Sir Alex Ferguson shelling out another £20 million in that area this season.

But Parish’s comments to me are a tough stance – he knows that Palace have the control in this instance and he’s obviously just keen to get the maximum value for the transfer.

I still think, despite his suggestion to the contrary, Wilfried Zaha will be playing Premier League football in 2013. In January or August, is the question. With Palace in third in the Championship, who knows, it could be with them.

Will any one pay the asking price? Or are clubs more likely to wait and see until the summer?

image: © OliverN5

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