The Daily Telegraph - Business
Zaha rises above attack of wanderlust but Hodgson remains uncertain of star’s future
Things were very different from the norm at Selhurst Park as the new season got under way on Saturday. In an empty stadium, there was no incessant noise from the Holmesdale End ultras, no guard of honour provided by enthusiastic cheerleaders, no eagle swooping across the pitch before kick-off.
But one thing was as it always is in these parts, an unchanging constant in troubled times: no one is sure whether Wilfried Zaha will still be around when the transfer window shuts. Crystal Palace’s best player remains in the grip of wanderlust, apparently determined to move on. Even manager Roy Hodgson is uncertain of his star forward’s likely whereabouts come Oct 1.
“Every transfer window I’ve been involved in Wilfried has made noises about playing for a club where he can make a step up,” said Hodgson, for whom the 1-0 victory over Southampton was a more than satisfactory way to mark the third anniversary of his appointment. “For anything to happen, though, that club has to come and pay the market price. Until that happens I’m happy to be working with Wilf.”
Rumours have circulated about interest from Arsenal and Tottenham but no bid has emerged. Now, at 27, his chance of the big move he craves grows less likely with each passing window.
Which, given his contribution to Palace’s victory, is very good news for their fans. Against Southampton he should have had a hat-trick: he scored one, smacking home a sumptuous pass from Andros Townsend, had another ruled out by the tightest of offside calls and ought to have scored a third when he fired into the side-net late on.
What was more telling than his striking efforts, however, was his work rate. His every chase, tackle and track-back did not suggest this was a player distracted by the possibility of a move.
Even more encouragingly for the Palace faithful, if he stays he will have the opportunity to forge a partnership with summer signing Eberechi Eze. Two mercurial talents together, quick, intelligent, imaginative: it is some prospect.
Even in the brief 15 minutes when Eze arrived from the bench there was hint of the link-up they could enjoy. “I’m expecting him to kick on,” Hodgson said of the new arrival. “He’s been a real star in the Championship. We weren’t the only club that looked at him. I’m expecting him to work hard and continue to progress.”