Crystal Palace icon John Salako has backed Chelsea to be the best destination for Wilfried Zaha, should the Ivory Coast international look to leave Selhurst Park after seeing summer moves denied.
Zaha was the subject of interest from Arsenal, Everton and Chelsea in the summer (Telegraph), but the Eagles held firm in their £100m asking price, which the Gunners nor Toffees were willing to meet.
The Blues’ transfer ban ensured Frank Lampard’s West London outfit were unable to step in with a rival bid this summer, but were thought to have considered an approach that would have seen Zaha move to Stamford Bridge in 2020.
That interest has now cooled amid the 26-year-old abandoning his plans to leave South London (Daily Star), while Lampard is claimed to have had second thoughts following the emergence of his thriving young talents.
Zaha leaving Palace has not been ruled out by Salako, though, as he feels his former side could face a difficult winter looking to retain the services of their star player, who was linked with a mega-money switch to Paris Saint-Germain if the Ligue 1 giants were to lose Neymar to FC Barcelona or Real Madrid this year (Mirror).
“Of course [there is still the chance Zaha could leave Palace],” Salako told Love Sport Radio. “I think Chelsea would probably be the best home for him after their ban.
“They’ve got a really exciting young side there, and Wilf could come in and add to that. He could well move there, but Arsenal could come back with the money too. Anything could happen!”
Salako, who played 150 games in the Premier League between spells at Palace, Coventry City, Bolton Wanderers and Charlton Athletic (TransferMarkt), would not expect there to be much uproar in South London if Zaha were sold, either.
“Of course the fans are going to forgive him!” he added. “The biggest coup over the summer was keeping Wilf. He obviously had his head turned but he’s been magnificent. No one begrudged him wanting a move.”
If Chelsea were to make advances to sign Zaha once their FIFA-imposed transfer ban comes to an end in the summer, it would likely be a move that would not hinder the development of players like Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi, but rather to replace the ageing forwards on the books at Stamford Bridge.
Willian – who has played nine games under Lampard across all competitions – is set to be out of contract next summer after what would be seven years at the club, and is yet to extend his terms although talks over a one-year deal are expected (Express).
Lampard has also rarely turned to 32-year-old Pedro since his return to Stamford Bridge, with the Spaniard playing the 16th-most minutes of all Chelsea players in the Premier League this season (WhoScored).
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