Wilfried Zaha causes Crystal Palace transfer problems
Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United have all been linked with Wilfried Zaha
English players attract a premium on the domestic transfer front. Young English talent receive phenomenal hype, and when they achieve international recognition, they attract even more attention.
Throw in some fantastic goals for a promotion chasing Championship side, a bit of flair, pace, and an impressive performance at Old Trafford in last season's League Cup, and it's easy to see why Wilfried Zaha has been linked with a multi-million pound switch to the likes of Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal.
Zaha - born in Abidjan, Ivory Coast - has stated himself that he is ready for the step up into the Premier League.
Speaking to The Daily Mail, Zaha said: "I'm not a teenager anymore.
"I've played more than 100 first-team games and this year is crucial to develop my football career. I want to establish myself in the Premier League and in international football.
"I've played a lot in the Championship so having that new challenge in the Premier League, where everyone wants to be, would be great."
That move could happen sooner rather than later if the 20-year-old attacker gets his wish.
"To be honest, if I had the chance in January and Palace agreed, it's something I'd want to go for," he added.
"Some of my friends, who play in the Premier League, joke around and ask me what is taking me so long. I just tell them I will be there at some stage.
"I've done a lot of learning in the Championship. Now I'm ready for the Premier League."
But it is understandable why Crystal Palace, currently sitting in third place in the table and two points off the automatic promotion places, would want to hold on to their most prized asset.
Zaha’s value will not decline over the next six months, no matter what happens and the windfall from promotion into the Premier League will edge towards £100 million next season - thanks to a new and improved television deal. The side who finishes bottom will earn £60 million, which is equal to the prize money Manchester City picked up for winning the title in 2012.
Then there are parachute payments, increased sponsorphip, commercial and match day incomes to consider. If Zaha still wants to move in the summer even with the Eagles entering the promised land then so be it, Palace will have a sizeable transfer pot to replace him. However, Palace may be better off selling Zaha now and using the money his sale would bring to strengthen their chances of promotion.
Zaha is the standout talent in the Championship at the moment and as a result opponents double and triple up on the England international to neutralise his threat. That allows other players more time and space, and it is no surprise that as Zaha has found it harder to continue his match-winning contributions from early 2012 into the latter half of the year, Yannick Bolasie has excelled on the opposite flank.
Bolasie, a summer signing from Bristol City, has been in formidable form and has attracted admiring glances from a number of Premier League clubs, proving that there is much more to Palace than just one wing-wizard.
If a big money offer was to come in from one of the Premier League's big-boys, Zaha would want to open talks with the interested party. Would it be in Eagles manager Ian Holloway’s best interests to force his young starlet to stay? Would Zaha’s head be turned? Would he be fully focused on Palace’s promotion push?
It's a tricky situation for the Palace management and board to deal with and, as the January transfer window continues, time starts to run and managers look for that player that could mean the difference between titles, Champions League, or the sack. As January 31st draws ever-nearer, the likelihood of offers coming in for Zaha increases.
After their recent troubles, keeping Palace on a firm financial footing that secures their short and medium term future should be the main priority of the Palace owners. Whether that is best served keeping Zaha in the hope he can fire them to promotion, or selling him to cash in now and give Holloway a little money to bring two or three players who can give Palace that extra depth as the season enters its crunch period, is a very difficult question to answer. In the end, Zaha himself may well force their hand.