Crystal Palace legend Nigel Martyn has opened up on the decision by the board to keep hold of Wilfried Zaha this summer.
The 26-year-old forward was subjected to much interest in the window, most notably from Everton and Arsenal. However, Palace held out for their mammoth asking price – rumoured to be at £80m (Metro) – and the club kept onto their man.
Palace’s stubbornness lead to things getting a tad messy: Zaha – through his agent (Evening Standard) – announced his desire to leave for Arsenal and subsequently handed in a transfer request on the penultimate day of the window, according to the Guardian.
Now former goalkeeper and Palace hero Nigel Martyn has criticised Palace for their decision with Zaha and thinks that they could have made a mistake.
He told 888sport: “If a player wants to go enough and is desperate enough to leave then it’s possibly not in your best interests to try and keep him – because you then have a player who doesn’t want to be there.
“Not that Wilf wants to let the club down in any way. He loves Crystal Palace. He just wants a chance to further his career and potentially go to a bigger club like Arsenal. That’s the type of club he needs to move to. He needs a club that is challenging for the Champions League – because that’s the standard that he’s at.
“I don’t see him lying down and not trying though. He doesn’t strike me as that type of person. He cares enough about his own club and will give his all until he moves on.”
Following Palace’s 1-0 loss to Sheffield United on the weekend, Martyn has commented on the club’s chances of relegation, adding that he hopes Zaha’s contributions make the difference again this year.
Martyn said: “It’s really difficult because you have the teams coming up and straight away they’re labelled as favourites to go back down. But over the past couple of years they seem to be coming up stronger from the Championship and if they get a foothold in the Premier League they stay there.
“There are probably 10 teams that will fight it out and Palace have to be careful not to be one of those. Hopefully if Wilf can repeat his form from last year that should keep Palace outside of that.
“They’ve had a draw then a tough game at Sheffield United so that’s not the start they would have been looking for. They have to bounce back pretty quickly otherwise they will get embroiled in it.”
Palace currently sit 14th in the Premier League, picking up one point from their opening two games. They travel to Manchester on the weekend where they will come up against their player of the season last year, United’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Martyn has a point within his statement, but Palace needed to prepare for Zaha’s departure. If you look at the squad they have, they would be staring relegation right in the face if it was short of their best player.
For context, since the beginning of 2017, Crystal Palace have just won six points from a possible 45 in the 15 Premier League games that Zaha has missed, according to @OptaJoe on Twitter.
Therefore, Palace letting Zaha leave without having planned would be a death wish. If, however, they saw this pressure coming earlier in the window and invested more deeply in the squad, by signing someone who could replace him, then it could have been a smart move.Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!