Wilfried Zaha has admitted speculation linking him with a move away from Crystal Palace last season left his head ‘a bit all over the place’.
The winger, 26, was involved in a protracted transfer saga with boyhood club Arsenal and then Everton, with the former opting to sign Nicolas Pepe instead, and the latter baulking at his £80 million fee.
Zaha remained silent and ended up staying at Selhurst Park and he has now spoken candidly about the mental state the whirlwind few weeks left him in, and the knock-on effect to this season.
Zaha, 26, was involved in a protracted transfer saga with boyhood club Arsenal and Everton
‘I had to put my head down and play my football. I would have been hindering my own progress by moaning and not wanting to perform properly,’ he told BBC Africa.
He added: ‘I have too much respect for my manager, the fans and my team-mates to treat them that way. It was a thing where “OK, this hasn’t happened but I’ve got to get on with it.”
‘I’ve got to prove every time that I’m the top player I claim to be so I had to get over that quickly.
‘Obviously my head was a bit all over the place at the beginning of the season but I had to nail down and just get on with it because the team deserved that.’
‘Obviously my head was a bit all over the place at the beginning of the season,’ Zaha said
The Eagles are high flying this season, reaching the impressive heights of sixth in the Premier League – after a string of good performances, behind Chelsea only on goal difference.
Zaha, who signed a five-year contract worth £130,000-a-week last year, added that he is focused on playing for his current club in a bid to reach goals he has set himself, after bagging 10 goals last season.
WILFRIED ZAHA’S SEASON IN NUMBERS
‘I’m seeing how it goes. I’m a Crystal Palace player and I’m just trying to perform to the best of my ability for my club.
‘I’m not thinking about anything else and just taking each day as it comes,’ he said.
He added on Palace’s good form, that has seen four wins and just two losses: ‘The season’s gone well so far. We’ve got a lot more in us and I’m happy with the squad and everyone’s happy with where we are right now.
‘All I can do is perform on the pitch. I’m trying to be a consistent performer on the pitch week in, week out.
‘Last season I set myself a target of 10 goals and managed to get 10, so I was happy. Hopefully I can reach my goals again – that’s all that’s on my mind.’
The news comes as Sportsmail revealed Zaha is taking legal action against his agent, Will Salthouse of Unique Sports Management, due to anger at the agency’s failure to secure him a departure from the South London club.
Sportsmail has learned that Zaha has instructed Chris Farnell of Manchester-based IPS Law to represent him in a case that will be decided at a private arbitration hearing under FA Rule K.
Zaha is understood to have informed Salthouse in writing of his desire to leave USM last month, triggering the start of a potentially explosive legal wrangle, with the player alleging his agent is compromised by his relationship with Palace chairman Steve Parish.
The winger made no secret of his desire to leave but Parish rejected the offers this summer
The Ivory Coast forward was told that he would be held to his contract with USM that runs until next summer, meaning they will be entitled to commission if he leaves Palace during the next two transfer windows, leading him to appoint his own lawyers.
The 26-year-old has been approached by several other intermediaries who have pledged to get him out of Selhurst Park, including super-agent Mino Raiola, and wants another agency to handle his next transfer.
Zaha was unhappy at being unable to leave Palace last summer despite interest from Arsenal and Everton, whose £52million bid led to him submitting a formal transfer in August.
His letter to Salthouse is understood to contain complaints that the agent is too close to Parish, a relationship he claims led to his move being blocked.