Underrated Prem star told not to ‘run after’ huge offer as he’s dubbed Real Madrid quality

Ciaran McCarthy
Wilfried Zaha, Crystal Palace, January 2023

Simon Jordan has told Wilfried Zaha not to “run after” a lucrative offer to play in Saudi Arabia, as he thinks the forward “could’ve played for Real Madrid”.

Zaha has been linked with big sides for much of his career. Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, and Liverpool are among those to have been reported to have held an interest at times.

For almost the last decade, though, he’s stayed put at Crystal Palace. In that time, the forward has racked up 452 appearances, scoring 89 goals and chipping in with 76 assists.

During that period, he’s shown time and time again that he’s got star quality. That quality is something that could’ve taken him to a massive club, thinks former Palace chairman Jordan.

“I do think Wilfried Zaha could’ve played for Real Madrid, he’s that good!” he said on talkSPORT.

“Who guided his career? Maybe if he had some ghastly individual like Kai Joorabchian rolling around and pushing him everywhere, then maybe he would get better opportunities.”

Zaha now finds himself at a crossroads in his career. His contract at Selhurst Park is up and the end of the season, and given he’s 30, he might soon have his last chance to make it at a big club.

However, recent reports suggest he’s been offered a mammoth £9million-per-year contract to play in Saudi Arabia for Al-Ittihad.

Jordan feels he’s still playing at a good enough level that he doesn’t need to take that step down, but he understands the allure of that sort of money.

“Wilfried Zaha, I don’t think should go to Saudi Arabia, I don’t. I think I’d much prefer him operating at the highest level because I know he’s good enough,” he added.

“If he chooses at this stage of his career at 30-31 years of age to run after 15 million quid when he can probably get seven or eight [in England].

“If Wilfried Zaha is happy with his career, who are you, who am I and who are all of these know-nothings about what Wilfried Zaha’s real view is, to tell him what he should and shouldn’t do?”

Indeed, over the past couple of campaigns, the Ivorian has scored 21 goals and provided five assists. That suggests he’s still capable of adding value to a Premier League side.

His output could rise if he was to go to a bigger club than Palace, who are really struggling in front of goal this season. If a chance to move to Arsenal and Chelsea – who are still linked – was to arise, he should take that over a move to Saudi Arabia.

He could finally realise his potential at a big side, rather than playing for a paycheque at a much worse standard.

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