Enigmatic is the kind term for Wilfred Zaha
Background photo: Rocky Biggs, CC-BY-SA 4.0
Once upon a time, Wilfred Zaha left Crystal Palace for Manchester to become Sir Alex Ferguson’s last signing before the Scot’s retirement. But he flopped terribly.
Perhaps Zaha stalled at United because he didn’t get any tutelage from the gaffer who plucked him from his boyhood club.
When Zaha’s time at Manchester United eventually came to a close in 2014, he was rightly labelled a flop by the British media.
The pace at which Zaha fell out of favour with media following his stint with the Red Devils made it easy for him to choose Ivory Coast over England to further his international career. Although he made appearances for England at both junior and senior levels.
The winger managed a pitiable four appearances in a chaotic year in Manchester. He never scored for the 20-time league Champions.
There’s no place like home. Tail between legs, Zaha’s career path stopped briefly at Cardiff before trailing back to Palace.
It’s been six years since the hullabaloo at Man United. The dust has settled and an enigma has emerged from the ashes like a phoenix.
Emerged from the ashes because Zaha is now an important player for club and country. Enigma because one doesn’t know where to place him in terms of talent and quality.
Is he an average player being overrated for his moments of brilliance at Crystal Palace?
Or is he a special talent good enough to feature for any big club, yet trapped in the shadow of a small one.
Truth be told, Zaha shines in the colours of Crystal Palace. He’s scored eight league goals this term; most of them beauties. He’s also laid on three goals for his teammates. Excluding the penalties he won his team after getting fouled for too much trickery.
Without question, Zaha carries Palace. The Eagles consider the attacker an X-factor. He brings pace, panache, power and flair to Palace. Safe to say, when the Eagles fly, Zaha helps them soar.
However, the Eagles don’t fly too often. Especially in attack where they’ve scored 40 goals in the League this far. Only six teams in the division have managed less.
King in a small Palace
Zaha plays for a low-scoring team, seated 13th in the league table.
The ambition at Crystal Palace doesn’t shift much from surviving an extra year in the Premier League. That bit has taken its toll on Zaha.
Irrespective of how good a player is, it’s hard to thrive in a team that’s always satisfied with keeping its head just above the water.
Zaha plays well for Palace and is a cult hero at Selhurst Park. He troubles the big boys when they clash. But his numbers don’t drop any jaws.
It’s why the top sides don’t want to touch him.
No big team wants to spend heavily on another highly-rated homegrown player who turns out to be a flop. Liverpool is still smarting from signings like Christian Benteke and Andy Caroll.
When he puts his heart at it, Zaha is a magician in the attack.
Having matured considerably since his nightmare at Old Trafford, it’ll be nice to see Zaha at a bigger club.
Spurs would suit his talent perfectly. The 26-year-old can also find a place at Chelsea.
But Zaha might become like fish outa water if he leaves Crystal Palace – his career started at Selhurst Park at the age 12.
Has he come of age and ready for the big step?