Crystal Palace may have lost Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Manchester United this summer, but they’ve stood firm on Wilfried Zaha thus far. With just a couple weeks left in the transfer window, the 26-year-old looks set to stay for another season at his boyhood club.
And that could be an opportunity for Chelsea, who have a mountain of cash sitting idle thanks to our transfer ban. According to the Telegraph’s Matt Law, Chelsea are “weighing up” a bid for Zaha, who wants to play Champions League football, for a transfer that would take effect only after the ban has been served (i.e. most likely next summer, or perhaps January). There’s no word on price, but Palace reportedly set the asking price at £80m, while laughing off Arsenal at £40m and not biting on Everton’s £60m + Cenk Tosun offer either.
Setting up a future transfer a year in advance is an inherently risky move (even if provisions are made for any injuries in the interim), but it worked quite well for Liverpool in their pursuit of Naby Keita. Chelsea did similarly with Pulisic over a six-month timeframe (sign-and-loan back) and were reportedly considering such possibilities with Luka Jovic as well before he opted to move to Real Madrid this summer instead — an understandable decision. In theory, the transfer ban would allow Chelsea to “sign” Zaha this summer and loan him out for the season (as Atletico Madrid did with Vitolo in 2017, sending him on loan for the first half of the season).
Zaha would be 27 by the time this proposed transfer would take place, which makes the £80m a rather high figure. But the insurance of an established attacking talent in a landscape that features two serviceable but aging players in the final year(s) of their contracts, and two other highly promising but unproven options, may be worth the investment. Throwing in a Michy Batshuayi,as suggested in the report, may lower the price a bit.