There is no denying there is a romantic attachment between Wilfried Zaha and Crystal Palace. He spent his youth days with the side, returned to south London after his previous 'big' move failed, and has amassed over 350 appearances for the Eagles. By all accounts, it's his club.
But all good things must come to an end, even if this particular end feels like it's been dragging on for an eternity.
Regular murmurings each transfer window about Zaha getting eyed up by so and so always seem to follow the same path: strong interest dissipates, Palace ask for too much money and Zaha stays put.
Last summer was the closest we came to seeing a move materialise since one actually did in 2013, as Arsenal and Everton made their interest known. Yet, again, they fell short of the Eagles' demands and despite public declarations of wanting to move, he remained at Selhurst Park.
But, it was close. Closer than we've seen, anyway.
However, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, this summer looks set to be different. Really, I promise.
The Times have revealed that Palace are now ready to part ways with their poster boy 'at the right price', one which is believed to be hovering around the £40m mark. Funnily enough, that's near enough the offers that Arsenal and Everton were looking to make only to be pushed back by Palace's insistence on recuperating a fee in the region of twice that amount.
Circumstances have changed those expectations, however, with finances stretched and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic meaning money is greatly accepted wherever obtainable.
Roy Hodgson himself even discussed Zaha leaving the club, stating that it would be fair on the club's part to let him leave having given 'good service' throughout his time there.
"Wilf has made it clear ever since I came to the club, really, that he would like to move on and find some pastures new," he said. "But of course he is a very valuable player and the club realises his value. Everything will depend on what sort of offers the club receives for him. Or maybe we satisfy his wishes and allow him to go after giving good service to the club for a period of time."
Most completed dribbles in the Premier League this season ?— Goal (@goal) July 26, 2020
182 - Adama Traore
162 - Wilfried Zaha
121 - Allan Saint-Maximin
102 - Emiliano Buendia
77 - Dwight McNeil
74 - Mateo Kovacic
72 - Jack Grealish
71 - Jordan Ayew
70 - Nathan Redmond
70 - Nicolas Pepe
So, on that basis, it looks as if the writing is on the wall and Zaha may actually - really this time - leave Palace. It would do most people a favour to see the back of this particular saga, one that's rumbled on for so long that the headlines practically write themselves.
It's not been the best season of his career this term, far from it, but at 27 years old Zaha is coming into his prime and still offers the explosive ability he's demonstrated in the Premier League over the past six years.
Who can take him at this point and fork out £40m is another matter though. There are obvious candidates who boast the financial clout, but the ones in question are not the those being linked with a move. Everton, perhaps? Could they go back in? They'd need to shift a few but there is a decent chance they could. Arsenal brought in Nicolas Pepe instead and are skint so they're out. But truth be told, I think I speak on behalf of almost everyone when I say we just want to see him gone.
Not in a derogatory way to Palace, of course, but simply as it's been the player's wish for such a long period of time and never come off. Zaha desperately wants to prove himself at a more established club and the hope is that he can do so. Who and where doesn't matter, only the when, which we all hope will be sometime from Monday onward.
It'll be interesting to see whether he can make the step up considering it fell flat the first time, but it's a narrative we're all harking for: Zaha moves to 'bigger' club, lifts trophy and football fans give out a collective warm smile.
Everybody wants Zaha to do well in this case, even Palace, and everybody also wants to see the back of this never-ending tale of the talented footballer who needed to leave his town and pursue stardom.
The Ivorian getting his move this summer for a decent fee would be the amicable solution for all. Let's hope it actually happens this time.
Source : 90min