Wilfried Zaha is the final attacking key for Chelsea to make them title contenders, amid interest in the forward.
What’s the talk?
According to the Daily Mail, Zaha is in the final year of his £130k-per-week Crystal Palace contract and despite being verbally offered an improved new deal he is yet to put pen to paper, on January 1st he can talk to clubs as a free agent.
Palace have survived attempts seemingly every window to lure their priced asset away, rebuffing any advances, but with clubs soon presented with the opportunity to negotiate directly with the 29-year-old, this could be a bridge too far for the Eagles, with the Blues waiting to pounce.
The key for Potter
Zaha is the most recognisable name outside the big six and his performances have been spoken about weekly since returning to Selhurst Park in 2015 following a disastrous spell at Old Trafford as if he were one of the league’s biggest assets.
In some ways he is, he carries the reputation of a renowned European star without the pedigree, and that hunger surely eats away at him thinking what could’ve been, always seemingly coy on a move, the Palace legend has scored 88 goals and registered 74 assists in a club record 441 games for the South London outfit.
If anyone deserves to choose their own destiny, it’s the Ivorian who could finally put those nagging doubts to rest by joining one of Europe’s elite, namely Graham Potter’s Chelsea, where he’d have the opportunity to spearhead the Blues’ title charge.
Able to operate anywhere in the final third, the 29-year-old would be a vital addition for tinker man Potter who could deploy Zaha in a number of roles in both his back four and back three setups, Patrick Vieira’s star man’s main strength comes with the ball at his feet, completing 2.38 dribbles per 90 and 2.93 progressive passes per 90, the top 4% and 7% amongst forwards, the role he’d most likely occupy for the Blues with Mason Mount able to effectively play a midfield role to accommodate the £13m-valued star.
Zaha’s creativity goes even further with him producing 3.53 shot-creating actions per 90, the top 14% amongst peers, his level of creativity is staggering considering he’s generating these numbers in a mid-table Palace team, leaving the thought of him in West London a scary prospect.
It’s no wonder former Eagles boss Roy Hodgson once lauded him as a “game-changer“.
The threat he possesses in front of goal is apparent too, scoring five goals this term, more than Raheem Sterling and Kai Havertz who currently occupy the roles he would prosper in, he’s achieved this with the lowest non-penalty expected goals too, showing how clinical he is when he gets in goal scoring positions.
Rangers legend and pundit Ally McCoist claimed that “on current form he is walking into the Chelsea team,” it’s hard to argue against that statement and on a free transfer Todd Boehly has the perfect opportunity to take his Chelsea era to the next level.