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Is it time for Zaha to leave Palace?

With the transfer window about to open soon, inevitably there will be speculation linking Wilfried Zaha with a move from Selhurst Park.

It happens every year, in January and June, yet he remains a Palace player.

It is almost nine years that the Ivory Coast international made his big money move to Manchester United, but his timing could not have been worse from his viewpoint. It coincided with end of Sir Alex Ferguson’s time in charge of the club and he was barely given a chance under his successor, David Moyes. 

He was shipped out on loan to Cardiff and then back to Palace, before signing for the South London club on a permanent basis again.

Since then he has helped keep Palace in the Premier League, almost single-handedly at times, and is a hero to many of the club’s fans. 

However, that does not mean his ambitions have been slaked. He has wanted to test himself at a bigger club again, and has linked with moves in the past to Arsenal, the club he supported as a boy, and Tottenham. 

Those moves have never materialised due to the high valuation put on him by Palace, but it is starting to get to a “now or never” situation for the Ivory Coast winger.

He is now 29 years old, and will have a year left on his current contract with Palace in June.

This may be his last chance to make a big money move, or he may have to reconcile himself to stay with Palace for the rest of his career. And, from the viewpoint of the South London club there is also a decision to be made.

Sell him now and extract some decent value for him, or allow him to walk away for free in 12 months’ time.

Ironically enough, Zaha is enjoying his best season yet under Patrick Vieira, having scored 13 goals in 33 outings in all competitions this season, and some would argue that he remains their best player.

At the same time they know that they have emerging talent at the club in the form of players like Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze, and that their development might benefit if Zaha were not there to inhibit them.

Allowing him to leave poses a risk for both player and club. For Zaha, there will be a chance of the Old Trafford experience repeating himself and that he will not be able to cope outside the cosy environment of South London.

And for Palace the danger is that they come to realise how much they have come to rely on the man who first joined their academy system when he was 12 years old.

Either way, this could be the time to find out.  The days of the one-club man in football are long gone and whilst it may be strange for to see Zaha in unfamiliar colours next season, it may actually be the best possible outcome for both player and club.