Arsenal’s pursuit of Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha started with a £40 million bid over the weekend. David Ornstein has since reported that there is little progress towards a deal, despite Zaha wanting a move to the Emirates.
Crystal Palace’s star has been a feature in transfer news for several windows now, as he’s developed from exciting, raw prospect to a constant threat in the final third.
No Premier League club is as reliant on one player as Palace are on Zaha – prising him away from Selhurst Park will take an almighty bid.
The Gunners have had a quiet window so far, despite losing Aaron Ramsey on a free transfer to Juventus. Here are four reasons that signing Zaha wouldn’t be the best move…
Extortionate Transfer Fee
Crystal Palace have every right to ask for the kitchen sink and more for Zaha. In this day and age, Arsenal's £40 million opening bid is an insult.
Quite simply, the Eagles do not want to sell their best player and the financial strength of even mid-table Premier League sides means they cannot be bullied in the same way anymore.
Arsenal will likely have to pay well north of £60 million for Zaha but the Gunners aren’t going to splash the cash like the Manchester clubs this summer.
By top six standards, they are under financial constraints, and throwing that sort of figure at Zaha would surely take them out of the market for plenty of other players unless they make a significant sale (which seems unlikely).
For other teams, £60 million on a player of Zaha’s calibre, with his unquestionable talent, isn’t a vast overpay. In Arsenal’s case, though, this would deplete their budget too much to make any sense.
Questions Over Style?
Arsenal’s squad construction is curious. Signing Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was bizarre, particularly after years without adding a marquee centre forward.
Unai Emery made it work last season, though, and the duo have flourished in north London whether playing together or rotating as the main striker.
Chucking Zaha into the mix would, if anything, make it a yet trickier puzzle for Emery. Playing all three isn’t an option in most matches.
Zaha has flourished having been given freedom for Palace, allowed to roam from a central position and pick the ball up on the turn. He wouldn’t have that luxury at the Emirates.
Then there’s Mesut Ozil. Rumours of Ozil departing have been flimsy at best. He was in and out of Emery’s side last year, mixing the majestic with the anonymous.
Zaha would be another option along with the two strikers and Ozil. In that sense, though, it would be a luxury and a very expensive one at that.
The fit in the current forward line isn’t perfect, and signing Zaha alone would not improve Arsenal’s odds in next season's football betting odds for the Premier League title.
Other Transfer Priorities
That leads us nicely onto Arsenal’s other priorities this summer. Ozil, Lacazette and Aubameyang can form a scary front line. It is Arsenal’s main strength at the moment. The rest of the team still needs work.
While a wide player would be nice, the centre of defence, full-back and central midfield are all more important than forwards for the Gunners right now.
If Arsenal are going to feature in the latest football transfer news updates for signings, it should be for reinforcements in other areas of the pitch, not another forward.
Arsenal are 7/5 to finish in the Premier League top four next season. For that to become a good price, or for the odds to drastically shorten, the defence needs a revamp, and a new midfielder is needed to at least attempt to fill the Aaron-Ramsey-shaped hole.
2019 Is The Summer Of Opportunity
Arsenal were well in the top four race last season. Chelsea – who won finished in the top four ahead of Arsenal and won the Europa League final - are facing a transfer ban, have lost Eden Hazard and are an unknown quantity under Frank Lampard.
The Gunners need to get this window spot on if they are to return to the Champions League in 2020/21. Improving the squad is an absolute must for Arsenal.
Manchester United must also sign players, but the Red Devils have a financial advantage that should give Ole Gunnar Solskjaer margin for error that Emery isn’t so fortunate to have.
Is the Zaha basket the right one for Arsenal to put all their eggs in? Does it leave them enough money to make notable additions elsewhere?
These are the questions Arsenal need to really consider before they send that monstrous cheque across London to Selhurst Park.
With Chelsea in turmoil and Manchester United continuing to be Manchester United, nailing this summer window could see Arsenal back in the top four. It’s hard to see Zaha, considering Arsenal’s limited resources, being the answer.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*