At the start of the summer, it was a familiar story for Crystal Palace fans. They had survived relegation, they needed to strengthen the squad and talisman Wilfried Zaha wanted to leave.
Zaha was linked with several clubs including Everton, Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain with Palace valuing the Ivorian at around £70million. With the current pandemic in the world, nobody has even come close to matching that fee and so far Zaha looks set to stay at Selhurst Park.
While Crystal Palace look to convince their star man to stay at the club, they’ve been adding to their squad. No first-team players have left the team but they have added two excellent attackers to help lift some of the burden off their star winger.
Ebere Eze has signed from Queens Park Rangers for around £20million, after impressing as one of the best players in the Championship last season. There was interest from several other clubs, but Eze revealed the lure of returning to south London was enough to bring him to Palace. In addition to Eze, Palace announced the return of Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi on a season-long loan deal.
Batshuayi signed on a short-term loan back in January 2019 and scored five goals in nine games for the club to help them avoid relegation. During his time in England, he hasn’t been able to nail down a regular role at Chelsea but has done well on loan spells at Dortmund, Valencia and Palace. It’s hoped that with a full-season at the club, he can prove to be the goalscorer they have craved for a while now.
With Palace bulking up their attacking options, it can be look at in two different ways. They’re either spending the Zaha money before they get it, with the knowledge that he will leave prior to the end of the window. If not that, they’re trying to prove their ambition to him by bringing in better players to help him and progress the side away from relegation battles.
While they’ll never get to the position Zaha wants to be in, one of winning titles and competing in Europe, it’s a big leap from what he’s been doing in the last few years. At 27, Zaha knows he is entering his prime and can’t afford another season like last year where he was way below par in terms of goals and assists.
Ultimately, I don’t think Crystal Palace’s position changes too much. These signings will in no doubt leave them confident they can survive if Zaha was to leave the club, but it also strengthens them massively even if he stays. Financially they’re not in a position where they needed to sell him to sign anyone and even then Batshuayi is only a loan deal.
If someone comes in for Zaha and he agitates for the moves, which seems likely considering Hodgson’s comments recently about him really wanting to leave, then the £70million fee likely reduces somewhat. Whether it reduces enough to convince someone to spend big on him is a different story entirely but Palace are prepared either way.