Crystal Palace manager Dougie Freedman has warned Premier League clubs that winger Wilfried Zaha is not simply for sale to the highest bidder.
The recently capped England U21 international was linked with a move to both Manchester United and Liverpool in the January transfer window, as top-flight clubs began to take an interest in the talented 19-year-old.
But, Freedman is keen to keep the winner of this year’s Football League Young Player of the Year award at Selhurst Park, and insists the Eagles aren’t in any rush to let their prized asset leave South East London anytime soon.
"Wilf has got a five-year contract that he only signed a few months ago. We'll decide over the next five years when is the best time for Wilf to move on - the chairman will decide that from a business point of view and I'll decide it on the footballing side,” the Scot told the South London Press.
"First and foremost we are trying to get the club in the Premier League within the timescale of his contract - hopefully he'll help us do that."
Ambitious Palace currently sit 12th in the Championship table, just seven points off the final play-off position currently held by Hull City – who they face at home this weekend.
And the club will need to convince Zaha that they are heading in the right direction, with Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson able to offer a regular fight for the title and European football at Old Trafford.
Ferguson could also point to a number of young players who have graduated into the Red Devils first team in recent seasons, with Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones proving English youngsters get their chance with United.
For Kenny Dalglish, the offer of Europa League football would be on the table after success in this season’s Carling Cup, and Liverpool have also shown a certain level of trust in youth players at senior level with Jordan Henderson a prime example after his big-money move from Sunderland in the summer.
However, luring the player to Anfield won’t be easy, judging by Freedman’s remarks and understandable desire to keep the player.
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