Arsenal set to ‘reignite interest’ in Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 13: Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion at Selhurst Park on March 13, 2021 in London, United Kingdom. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)

Arsenal are set to rekindle their interest in Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha and could make a move this summer.

Zaha was close to making the switch across London in 2019, but former Gunners boss Unai Emery opted for the £72million rated Nicolas Pepe instead- a club-record signing.

79 games, 17 goals, and 14 assists later, Pepe has not quite lived up to his potential, with consistency issues damaging a fluid run in the starting eleven.

It is rumoured that Mikel Arteta may look to offload the Ivorian at the end of this season, bringing in his fellow countryman Zaha as a replacement.

Palace are ready to cut their ties with talisman Zaha and a potential swap deal may help to finally complete the attacker's move to North London.

Roy Hodgson is said to be a big admirer of Arsenal academy product Ainsley Maitland-Niles who is currently on loan, battling for survival with relegation candidates West Brom.

 

The five-time England international is said to be looking for a move away from the Emirates this summer after 17 years at the club and Hodgson is set to demand the 23-year-old midfielder, plus cash, in exchange for Zaha.

Zaha’s Arsenal love affair

When asked by Italian journalist Alessandro Schiavone in 2017 who he supported as a child, Zaha said: “Arsenal. Still do.”

Since then, 'Wilf' has expressed his desire to play for his boyhood club on multiple occasions and has seemed unsettled ever since Arsenal’s initial interest in him.

The Palace star told Jamie Carragher earlier this year - as per the Mail - that he and Emery were keen to strike a deal back in 2019.

“He was like, ‘Yeah we’d love to have you’ and I was just like, ‘Yeah I’d love to come’,” Zaha said. “The conversation was rather straightforward. Obviously, it was up to the club who they chose and they chose Pepe over me.”

Where does he fit at Arsenal?

After the emergence of Bukayo Saka last season and the signing of Willian during the summer, Arsenal face no shortage in the winger department.

Add the likes of Pepe, Reiss Nelson and Gabriel Martinelli to that conversation - as well as Emile Smith Rowe and Pierre-Emmerick Aubameyang who are both able wide men- and Arsenal boast up to seven first-team wingers.

 

However, after the horrendous form of the club this season, it is probable that Arteta will look to offload one or two of those names in order to bolster the attack with Zaha.

Right move by The Gunners?

Box-office, that's what Zaha is. The forward's combination of electrifying pace and tricky feet have him tabbed as one of the Premier League’s most unstoppable players on his day.

After a poor 2019-20 season, a hangover of the Arsenal transfer saga in the summer, Zaha bounced back this season, racking up seven goals in his first 11 appearances.

 

Sidelined for a few weeks in February with a muscle strain, Zaha has since failed to replicate the same form he managed at the start of the season- scoring just two in 13.

The Gunners will look to offload some players this summer, Matteo Guendouzi, Lucas Torreira and Alexandre Lacazette all in question, which will fund a potential transfer for the Palace man.

However, at 28-years-old, the signing of Zaha would go against the direction Arsenal are seemingly heading in.

A young core of Saka, Smith Rowe and Martinelli looks to be the foundation of rebuilding the club, so a judgement must be made by the club’s hierarchy if Zaha warrants the £30million, plus Maitland-Niles, price tag.

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