Why don’t Arsenal go for Wilfried Zaha to cover for Saka?

Hi Gooners, by Peter Doherty
While recognizing that most Gooners will feel that this ship has already sailed it strikes me that the search for cover to prevent Saka burnout may be present in a former Arsenal linked man in Zaha. With rumours swirling around any player that had cause to wander on to a wing in the course of a game in the top European leagues it surprises me that this is a move that doesn’t garner any attention.
There is of course the recognition of the age profile not fitting the current regimes framework. But Arsenals investment in youth and potential has reached saturation point and it’s would be prudent at this point to start bringing in proven Premier League experience and quality to supplement the younger players. With the exception of his season at United, Zaha has been consistently outstanding in what has often been a humdrum Palace side. For successive seasons he was their only creative outlet and he never failed to deliver. His United foray was an aberration as he joined a club in complete turmoil at a formative period in his career.
Zaha is nudging 30 and this will probably undermine any possibility of this deal being done. But 30 in today’s game is not the same as it was in previous generations. The longevity of players has increased significantly and Zaha has the advantage of not having a huge amount of International wear and tear. What was evident in his battle with White last week was that the level of threat that he poses has not diminished. Every time he picked the ball up there was a palpable sense of danger in the backline. This level of impending threat is an invaluable asset to a team, as often it is the potential rather than the execution that unsettles a defence. Knowing that a player can cause you damage causes a defence to double up as was the case with White and Saliba, Saka and at one point, Zinchenko. Zaha has the presence to cause an opposing defence to lose structure as he is so potent. The opportunities that this could create for Jesus in particular, who is world class at picking up second balls off tackles and ricochets, is immense.
Another asset that Zaha has is a committed attitude. As demonstrated last week his effort level never drops and it’s stands out even in a team as hard working as Palace. Although he prefers the left wing for Palace he has proven equally adept when switching sides which means he offers quality cover on both sides. If you need reminding of how dangerous Zaha can be check out his through ball for Eze and then his awareness and positioning directly afterwards after Ramsdale’s save.
My final selling point is that he is a confessed Gooners and would bleed for the shirt. With Zaha there is always a sense of what might have been if Emery had his wish and got him instead of Pepe. I’d be interested to hear what you Gooners think about the unlikely prospect of him arriving now.
Peter Doherty

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28 Comments

  1. Agree. Ticks alot of boxes. One other name though is Traore,from Wolves. £10m that’s a steal & the guys a beast. Final ball needs improving but at that price a good option.

  2. Not for me, thanks.
    Love him as a player, but there are several reasons not to go in for him.
    1st; He normally plays from the left wing, not the right.
    2nd; He’s too old to learn how to fit into Arteta’s tactics fast enough. He’s always been a lone player, as in give him the ball and let him do his thing (akin to Alexis). We need team players.
    3rd; Would Zaha be happy to get less regular game time at his age? I very much doubt it.
    4th; If we were to get a winger from Palace, Olise would be the better option. Young, hungry, skillful, and wouldn’t be so annoyed with sitting on the bench as much.

    1. Agreed. Zaha is predominantly an inverted LW, so he’d compete with Martinelli and Smith-Rowe on the left wing

      Aside from that, we’ve got Pepe and Marquinhos as Saka’s competitors

      If Arsenal need another RW, they’d better sign Traore, since we don’t have an RW like him. He is a conventional RW, who can whip crosses from the right byline frequently and I bet he can become an excellent RWB too

      1. what do you base this comment on “He is a conventional RW, who can whip crosses from the right byline frequently and I bet he can become an excellent RWB too”? I have been following Traore for several years and i can hardly recall 1 good cross from him, most of the time he dribbles past 3 players and then makes an appalling cross/shot or a pass to the teammate in the worst possible position. also, he has 11 goals in 154 appearances, as a starter for a top 10 team. let that sink in for a minute. You have been asking for traore (and chukwueze) for sereral years now, since his middlesbrough days. What will it take for you to realize that not only is he not up to Arsenal standards, but he is starting to fall below Wolves standards as well?

        1. If you recalled his early days at Wolves, Spain and Barcelona, his crosses were pretty successful before he became well-known in the leagues. He is currently good as a super-sub, because most teams have already known his patterns and he isn’t good on the left wing

          I wanted him because we don’t have a pacey conventional RW like him and he could be a world class attacking RWB if we play with a three-CB formation. Conte also wanted to sign him for his wingback tactics, before eventually opted for a much younger RWB

          All our right wing specialists are left-footed and tend to cut inside frequently, so it’d be nice to have a different RW type on the bench. This is also why I’d like a target man to sit in the dugout

    2. You make very good points Ptk. Perhaps if Emery had got his wish for Zaha instead of being given Pepé (in what I still believe was a dodgy deal) then perhaps our recent history might have been a little different. Now the team is heading in the right direction under Arteta and Zaha’s time has gone.

      1. Absolutely, we would have been playing CL football if not for Pepe’s deal. Feel pity for Emery

  3. Technically, Zaha would be a good signing. But cosider his age and response/ reaction starting from the bench.
    Secondly, and more importantly, Zaha is ALWAYS grumbling against the referees . This attitude, to my mind, is contra indicative of the Arsenal gene.

  4. As we all know Arsenal should have bought Zaha instead of Pepe…but hindsight is a wonderful thing…Today I’m not sure that it would make sense to bring him in on a floating rotational basis and as has been pointed out he is more suited to the left side.
    If Traore is available for only £10m then it would make perfect sense to bring him in and use him as an impact substitute…Otherwise we do have ESR and now both Marquinos and Vieira who can presumably play on the flank …later in a game or when necessary.
    My feelings are…though…that more than anything Arsenal require back-up in Central Midfield and I still believe that Tielemens is the best option.

  5. The simple reason it wont happen is he will have little to no sell on value.
    He is 29 already so whatever transfer fee paid out is lost as no one will pay big money for a 31/32 year old on 150k a week.

    In contrast all of the players signed last summer or this will have value in 3+ years

    The only we can compete with the oil funded teams is the buy young players to improve and possibly sell on for a profit.

  6. I live in Croydon where ZAHA is well known among certain of my friends. Zaha is a top player for sure but his attitude leaves something to be desired He knows he is the big honcho at Palace, or was until Vieira took over.
    He also does work hard on the pitch.

    I am very firm that MA will not entertain a man like this at Arsenal. Professionals within the game are far more in the know than we fans and I know just enough to be very sure Zaha will NOT be coming to us.

    Were he a different personality off the field I would not have ruled it out but being as he is, I DO RULE IT OUT.

  7. At 30 his time has come and gone in the normal sense – Palace priced him out of a deal far too often (iirc they wanted £90m in one window when that was a lot more even than now) and he was too decent to throw a tantrum and file a transfer request etc.

    The fly in the ointment is the world cup. Ivory Coast are not playing in Qatar, so having someone fresh when the PL resumes after Qatar could be powerful.

    If we could get him on a 1 year deal that would be ideal – maybe even a loan with or without an option to buy. I doubt that Palace would go for a loan though and Zaha unlikely to be impressed with a one year deal, but… it never hurts to ask – and everything is possible at the right price.

    Even a 3-year deal isn’t terrible since you could sell him at age 31 with 2 years left on the deal (if he’ll go – there’s a risk of a run-down-the-contract scenario).

    Note: he’s played as an inverted RW for long enough that he can continue to play that role – or cover for that role for us. He can also cover LW if needed.

    So as a stopgap for this unusual wc season, Zaha could be a good option.

  8. I have to say that you’re living up to the stereotype of Arsenal fans, knowing nothing about the player, as he doesn’t play for you.
    Zaha would match any of the Arsenal squad, and he is one of the hardest working players in the premiership. He plays on the left or as striker for Palace, but I believe his best position is actually on the right, followed by the left, He is very much a team player, and would adjust easily to a different managers tactics. He is disliked for his attitude, but this is just how he deals with being fouled by defenders that can’t deal with him, his teammates love him. Hopefully you won’t get him, as you won’t appreciate him.

  9. Age isn’t everything. Spurs signed Perisic at 33 on the basis they could get a couple of great years out of him while he passed on his vast experience to the rest of the squad. The crucial point though was they got him on a free transfer. Zaha would cost a fortune and doesn’t look like someone who can help other players develop. It doesn’t mean signing the odd over age player is a bad idea though, it just has to be the right player at the right price.

  10. Zaha will not want to be a back up to
    Saka. He will not humble himself to follow AFC strict rules and regulations of a play style for the Arteta project
    Zaha is not different from Pepe
    So let us not west our time
    We better manage Pepe till January

  11. Yes zaha is a good player for the gunner team …very skill and hard workii player..buy him…

  12. I Am an arsenal fan but I can’t play Saka ahead of Zaha… let’s be honest with ourselves Zaha is an upgrade to Saka or can anyone Play martinelli ahead of Neymar…d only thing is that Zaha will block Saka from developing fast and again age is not on his side again period….what are we talking about here

  13. If palace would sell in a reasonable price he would be great.
    Last time they were asking for 80 millions and Arsenal decided that is not a price for his age, went for Pepe and we all know how that went.

  14. It seems Arteta’s priority is not in Wilfred Zaha. He is all already made player for gunners. I would want Arsenal to go for him in earnest.

  15. Signing a young player should be priority like PINO or CODY GAKO. Not ZAHA who has no scope to improve the team

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