It has been an eventful summer so far across the Premier League, with many of the bigger teams moving in earnest to rebuild. This often leaves the middle class of the league, including Crystal Palace, fighting to find creative deals. So far this summer, the Eagles have certainly been inventive in their signing choices. The challenge they now face, though, is ensuring that they get maximum value for their money this summer. There will also likely be some exits from fan favourites, with Wilfried Zaha high on the potential list.
Zaha has been a long-term target for other clubs, but the massive fee asked for has always put other clubs off getting involved. However, it looks like one deal could take place in a way that suits Palace best. AS Roma are keen to do a deal, meaning Palace can avoid selling to a domestic rival. And while Roma cannot match the money that Palace could get domestically, an interesting swap deal has been mooted.
The deal suggested in Italy would see Zaha, who is in the last year of his deal, move to Rome for cash plus a player. The player in question is Felix Afena-Gyan, a hot shot young striker who scored some goals for Roma last year – including a wonderful brace early on in the season. For Roma, losing a young star like Afena-Gyan would be hard to swallow, but an acceptable price to pay for a ‘win now’ player in his prime.
For Palace, it means not having to worry about Wilf coming back to score at Selhurst Park again outside of an unlikely meeting in Europe. It would also mean Zaha can finally achieve his long-term aim of playing at least one season abroad.
Does Afena-Gyan offer enough for Palace to do a deal?
The main question would involve whether or not the young Ghana striker would be enough to fill the hole. Right now, he is arguably too raw – but with Odsonne Edouard and Christian Benteke still at the club, there are some more experienced strikers. Moving on Zaha would open up wages that could be spent on a midfielder, for example, allowing the attack to continue to develop with the players already in place.
While losing Zaha is never a good thing, it is now or never if the club wants a return on their homegrown hero. Selling him would be a blow, but if it brought in a large sum of money – in excess of £20m – and also a young prospect, it might not be the worst deal in the world.
Right now, there remains some doubt about whether or not Palace will take Roma up on their offer. With most reports suggesting Palace will happily sell to avoid losing Zaha on a free, though, this could be one of the better offers on the table.
The Premier League offers such riches that, for once, Palace should look to do a deal that stops them from being hurt by an ex-player as opposed to banking a big profit by selling to an English club.