Patrick Vieira says Wilfried Zaha will decide his own future but insists talk of him moving to a huge club is not affecting Crystal Palace or the winger.
Zaha, 29, is enjoying his ninth season of a second spell at Selhurst Park. The talented forward began his professional career with the Eagles before leaving for Manchester United in summer 2013. However, his Old Trafford stint failed to ignite and, following a loan spell at Cardiff, he was soon back in south London.
The rest is history as the Ivory Coast star has become a fans favourite, with 88 goals in all competitions. He also provides many assists and is a player who gets the fans out of their seats.
Unsurprisingly, he has been linked with many clubs over the years. Arsenal made no secret of their desire to snare the African back in 2019 but he remained with Palace.
More recently, Chelsea have been added to the list of Zaha’s suitors. But the Evening Standard are reporting that Barcelona and Juventus have now entered the race.
Zaha will be out of contract next summer. Therefore, foreign clubs can speak to him in January.
He has yet to agree new terms with Palace and may leave for nothing at the end of the campaign.
Vieira has made it clear exactly what all connected with the club think of their star man. And he stressed that talk of future plans will have no bearing on his form.
“It is not (a distraction) for him and it is not for the football club as well,” he told reporters.
“We know how important it is for us and, again, he knows how much the fans, the club love him. And we know how much he loves the football club as well.”
Vieira keen for Zaha to stay
Zaha has stated that he wants to play for a club in the Champions League. He is unlikely to get that chance with his current employers.
Therefore a move to one of the aforementioned clubs makes sense for the Abidjan-born ace.
Vieira does not want that to happen. But the former France international respects Zaha’s right to choose his next move.
“The decision has to be his decision, and we will do everything in our side to keep him because he is an important player for the football club, but then we will see,” he added.
“At the moment, he is playing well, is performing well, and that is all that matters for now.”
Vieira expects Zaha’s head to be turned
Zaha’s desire to experience Europe’s top club competition is shared by most top-flight footballers.
Not too many get the opportunity but a move to either Stamford Bridge or the Emirates might suffice.
Add Barca and Juve into the equation and it is obvious that Zaha has some key decisions to make in the near future.
“If you take any player in the Premier League and you mention those names (big European clubs) to those players, that of course will have an impact,” continued Vieira.
“And when big teams like that have been mentioned, of course for any players in the Premier League, that creates an excitement.
“It will be his decision. Me as a manager and we (as a club) will do everything that we can to convince him to stay with us and to make him understand.
“The next couple of years can be really exciting for the football club, and of course we want him to be part of it. It is about where we want to go next.”
Crystal Palace are currently tenth in the Premier League table. They have scored 13 league goals, with Zaha netting five of them.
He is clearly vital to the club’s future but it remains to be seen whether they can ward off interest for another season.