The January transfer window is now open, and several of the English Premier League’s biggest clubs will be making a move for Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha.
The 20-year-old spoke candidly about his desire to take the next step in his career and told The Daily Mail’s Joe Bernstein:
I’m not a teenager any more. I’ve played more than 100 first-team games and this year is crucial to develop my football career. I want to establish myself in the Premier League and in international football.
I’ve played a lot in the Championship so having that new challenge in the Premier League, where everyone wants to be, would be great. To be honest, if I had the chance in January and Palace agreed, it’s something I’d want to go for.
Exciting talents are difficult to find in in winter. Even when they do become available, teams are often forced to overpay for the players they covet.
Fernando Torres’ £50 million signing two years ago is an example in which Chelsea was forced to pay an inflated price. While the fee seems truly exorbitant in hindsight, the Blues likely would have had to pay slightly less had they waited until the summer.
But Zaha’s availability brings about a special case. He is a young talent who can be signed at a moderate price, and he has publicly stated his desire to switch clubs.
The Guardian’s Jamie Jackson reports that the talented English international will be available for roughly £10 million. At that price, he would bring exceptional value for a January signing. Jackson notes that Manchester United and Tottenham, in addition to Arsenal, are showing interest.
With United atop the table and Spurs battling the Gunners for fourth place, each team has motivation to add depth to its attacking corps. But Zaha’s tender age and potential will ensure that the fee paid for his services will return dividends not just this season, but for years to come.
Due to this, United and Spurs will not let Arsenal be the only one bidding, and Arsene Wenger may have to cough up a few million extra pounds in order to earn Zaha’s signature.
It will be worth it. The French manager will have an impressive group of young and talented attacking players if he is able to close a deal that would bring Zaha across London.
Wenger has always placed an emphasis on value in his moves during the transfer window; signing Zaha for under £15 million would be another smart acquisition. A bidding war will ensue for the winger’s services, and Arsenal would greatly benefit from winning it.