A contribution piece from Sumeet Jena
Multiple reports have surfaced in the past few days suggesting that Chelsea are the latest club set to enter the race for Wilfried Zaha, aiming to steal him from under the noses of Everton and Arsenal.
Palace value Zaha at an astonishing and somewhat laughable price of £80 million. Everton has reportedly offered £60 million-plus striker Cenk Tosun, a player who Palace themselves have tried to sign multiple times in the past, as per The Telegraph. With Arsenal turning to Nicolas Pépé of Lille, who in my opinion is a much better purchase anyways, that only leaves Chelsea.
Rich from the sales of Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata, Chelsea certainly have the financial capabilities to secure the talents of Zaha, but it would almost certainly be a poor decision from the club.
At 26, the Ivory Coast international has registered only one Premier League campaign with over 10 goals, coming in the 2018/19 season. However, it should be noted that (with all due respect to Crystal Palace) the Eagles aren’t exactly a team equipped to blow teams out of the water. But, this same reason is perhaps why Zaha has seemed like such a mercurial talent at times. When surrounded by average or below-average players, it’s not difficult for a somewhat decent player to stand out. And again, Zaha is a decent player who has done respectively well in the Premier League. But he’s just not Chelsea quality, nor will he ever be.
Chelsea already boasts four wingers, two of whom are Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi. Both are light years younger than Zaha and have shown glimpses of world-class talent. The addition of Zaha would not only stunt their development, but it simply wouldn’t be that big of an upgrade. At the gawking asking price of £80 million, Chelsea should look elsewhere.
Where you may ask? Germany. In fact, the same club from which Chelsea secured the talents of Christian Pulisic. Yep, childhood Chelsea fan Jadon Sancho should be Chelsea’s number one target next summer. A pipe dream? Maybe, but one that’s well worth it.
The England youngster is the perfect compliment to Hudson-Odoi, as the two would fit extremely well together, both on and off the pitch. Sancho is best when operating on the right, but his versatility to play through the middle or on the left shouldn’t be overshadowed. And combined with the versatility of Hudson-Odoi and Pulisic, this (potential) interchangeable trio would certainly spell nightmares for defenders.
At 26, Zaha has never shown the consistency nor production to warrant a transfer to a club of Chelsea’s stature, let alone at the figure of £80 million. But, at just 19, Sancho has already proven himself on the big stage for Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League, a competition Zaha has yet to even feature in. As clearly shown, there’s no debate to be had here. The best (and frankly only) winger Chelsea should be pursuing is Jadon Sancho, not Wilfried Zaha.