Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew believes Wilfried Zaha has the potential to go on and play for Barcelona or Real Madrid some day.
Zaha has been a crucial player for Crystal Palace over the last few years. He was the pivot in Palace’s bid for promotion to the Premier League from the Championship in 2013, and was tipped for greatness. His stock kept growing with each terrific performance, and Manchester United were quick to snap him up.
However, things didn’t work out at Old Trafford for the young Englishman. He showed his potential in a 2-0 Community Shield win in David Moyes’ first game in charge, but he never got the chance to prove himself under the Scotsman, who was sacked later that very season.
Moyes blamed Zaha’s lack of game time on his poor attitude in training, and when Louis van Gaal was appointed manager the next season, he made it clear that Zaha’s pacey, risk-taking style did not suit his rigid, possession-based philosophy, and the winger was sold back to Palace.
After once being tipped to be an England regular, Zaha’s lack of minutes at club level meant he could not even get a look in for England’s under 21’s anymore.
However, re-signing for Palace proved to be the right move, as the 23-year-old began to spark again. He scored five goals and assisted seven in 43 appearances for the club last season, and slowly started to get his confidence back.
He was subject to a bid from Tottenham Hotspur this summer, and even though Palace rejected Spurs’ approach, Pardew believes Zaha has the potential to play for bigger clubs some day.
The manager acknowledged that there are still a few things the winger has to learn before he can make the move to one of Europe’s elite, but believes he is at the perfect place to do it.
“This club took him back from Man United when things weren’t going so well and put their money where their mouth is to bring him back,” Pardew told the Croydon Advertiser.
“He’s done great for me, but I think there’s improvement in him. I do think he’s got some improvements to make to be a top player.
“I think we’re a good platform for him to do that in the Premier League. I have tried to say to him I want him to be a massive success here.
“If Spurs blew us out of the water or Man City offered £50 million and it was Champions League football, okay, it’s because you’re the finished product.
“This is what Wilf’s ambition should be, but he needs to address his goals and assists.
“If a club came in with, say, £50-£60 million – let’s say a Manchester City, Barcelona or Real Madrid, and he’s got 10 goals and nine assists – as his manager at Crystal Palace I can’t really stand in his way.