Wilfried Zaha Says He Wants UCL Football Amid Arsenal, Manchester United Rumours

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistApril 20, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 14: Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace looks on during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Manchester City at Selhurst Park on April 14, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)
Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha has said he is ready to leave the club in order to play UEFA Champions League football.

The forward has been outstanding for the Eagles in recent years and is adored by the supporters at Selhurst Park. However, despite having signed a new long-term deal with the club last summer, Zaha told Adrian Kajumba of the Daily Mail he would be willing to move on to sample elite European football:

"For me to be better, to achieve what I know I am capable of, I have to aim to play at the very highest level, to win trophies. I'm blessed to have come this far in my playing career. But I feel like there is so much more I have to offer.

"I have to experience the Champions League. I just need the opportunity, that's it. And I'll do the rest."

The Palace Twitter account offered a reminder of what Zaha is capable of recently, with this highlight package from the 1-0 win over Newcastle United:

Crystal Palace F.C. @CPFC

🔮 @wilfriedzaha https://t.co/oaQ4P7GJUr

Kajumba noted that Arsenal are "big fans" of the Ivory Coast international, whereas the chances of a return to Manchester United are said to have "increased" following the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the club's long-term boss.

Additionally, Inter Milan and Borussia Dortmund are reported to be admirers of the Eagles star. Kajumba said an offer "well above £50 million" will need to be lodged before Crystal Palace consider any transfer.

Zaha agreed to join United from Crystal Palace in 2013. The move didn't work out for the player, and he eventually returned to Selhurst Park on a permanent deal in 2015. During his time at United, he worked under Solskjaer in a loan stint at Cardiff City.

In his second spell with Palace, he's progressed into one of the most effective wide players in the top flight.

Per WhoScored.com, Zaha is a difficult man to get the ball off:

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

Wilfried Zaha: Only Eden Hazard (109) has completed more dribbles than @wilfriedzaha (92) in the Premier League this season For more player stats -- https://t.co/gnmc4TGHiH https://t.co/u2CTafGxVe

Defenders often have to resort to fouling the 26-year-old in order to contain him:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Most fouls won in the final third in the Premier League since 2016/17: • Wilfried Zaha (110) • Eden Hazard (105) • Raheem Sterling (79) • Dele Alli (76) The trickiest of customers. https://t.co/OkSsXtNU9q

Given he didn't cut it at United, some elite sides may be wary of spending huge money on Zaha. In addition, his goalscoring record isn't as good as it should be for someone with his ability—he's netted just eight times in 30 Premier League appearances this season.

If he was part of a more attack-minded team, those numbers would surely increase, and with some fine-tuning to his game, Zaha has all the attributes to become one of the best players in the division. Crucially, it appears he is ready to take the next step in his career.


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