Sam Allardyce has backed Wilfried Zaha’s proposed move to Chelsea, saying the time is right for the Crystal Palace forward to test himself at a big club.
Zaha, the forward, has reportedly told his Selhurst Park team-mates he wants to leave Palace this summer, with the Mirror reporting he could hand in an official transfer request to force through a move.
The 25-year-old has already rejected a new contract offered to him by the south Londoners, but he has reportedly rejected the chance to join Everton as he would prefer to stay in the capital.
This has pushed Chelsea to the front of the queue for Zaha, the Ivory Coast international, with the Blues lining up a second offer for him after having seen an opening bid worth around £30million rejected.
A Palace youth graduate, Zaha has already tried his hand with one of the giants of English football, having signed for Manchester United in 2013.
His stay at Old Trafford was ill-fated, and took in loans with Cardiff and Palace before he returned to the south Londoners permanently in February 2015.
With all the upheaval at United around the time of Zaha’s signing, as well as his youth, it is not a surprise he struggled to make more than four appearances for the Red Devils, but Allardyce feels now is the time for the former England international to secure a much-deserved move to a big club.
“He’s ready,” Allardyce told talkSPORT, “because of the experience of Manchester United and then coming back to Palace and re-establishing himself as a top player.
“A few years have moved on and he’s established himself even more as one of the most talented players in his position in the league.
“The last two seasons in particular have shown his maturity, and his end product has got better. He’s not only played out wide, but Roy [Hodgson] has used him through the middle successfully.
“It’s London, where he prefers, so he’d be more comfortable there.
“So, as much as I don’t like to say this to Crystal Palace fans who I love, it is probably time for Wilfried to move on, and get that next challenge under his belt.
“I do think the fee would have to be much bigger than what Chelsea are talking about.”
Zaha is regarded as one of the finest attacking players in England’s top flight, and Allardyce – who coached the forward in the second half of 2016/17 – responded to claims he does not work hard enough when it comes to the defensive side of the game.
Allardyce continued: “I think there are occasions when he doesn’t work as much as he should, but his stats physically are exceptionally good.
“And while we always want players to track back, Wilfried’s real qualities are his high intensity sprint distance, in possession, his creativity, and just causing the opposition massive amounts of problems.
“I think you can forgive a player who doesn’t track back so often because of that quality going forward.”