BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Wilfried Zaha’s new Crystal Palace deal means he will be just five months shy of his 31st birthday when it runs out – with chairman Steve Parish hailing the attacker’s “life-long commitment” to the South London club.
Whether the Ivory Coast international does see out his playing days in SE25 is something that remains to be seen.
But what is clear is that Zaha, Palace’s joint-highest Premier League scorer along with Chris Armstrong after notching his 23rd top-flight goal in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Fulham, is going nowhere any time soon.
Being indispensable to the Eagles comes at a price – both for the club where he has flourished since the age of 12, but also for anyone who covets one of the outstanding attacking players in the English game.
Palace have made Zaha their highest earner – at around £130,000 a week. But he was already into six figures when he penned a fresh five-year contract last summer.
It makes any potential deal hugely expensive, even for the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.
The former have not sold Eden Hazard or Willian, which would have had a knock-on effect and caused the kind of chain reaction that causes movement in the transfer market.
Wages alone would not be a stumbling block. But then you come to any potential fee for Zaha.
Relegation is a financial disaster – so what price do you put on a player who is absolutely central to avoiding that scenario? And the value will grow if Zaha adds more goals now that manager Roy Hodgson – so tactically astute – successfully converts him into a striker.
Zaha’s new deal has no buyout clause, adding a further element of control to the SE25 outfit.
“I just wanted to get it over and done with so I can focus on this season,” Zaha told the club’s in-house TV channel. “I’m buzzing to get it sorted.”
Palace have not taken a point without the 25-year-old since September 2016 – 3-2 at Sunderland – a run of 11 matches.
“This is the final piece of the jigsaw,” said Parish. “Just to announce that [Zaha deal] and put all those stories to bed really that we knew weren’t true and were just rumour-mongering. Wilf has just done everything properly and right.
“He has shown the respect he has got for the football club. He should be applauded for that, with all the noise going on around him.
We’ve settled everything in terms of his long-term future. It is absolutely fantastic for the football club.
“We all know about the ups and downs we’ve had in this division, and we’re all absolutely committed to giving it our best shot.
“Let’s hope with all the hard work that has been put in by people behind the scenes that we have the season I think we deserve as a football club and that the players are capable of.
“I’m not going to put too much pressure on them, because we know ensuring our survival is the first thing.”
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