Arsenal are emerging as strong contenders for young Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha as they seek a potential replacement for Theo Walcott, according to reports.
The Daily Mail claims that Palace’s 19-year-old star was watched by the Gunners’ former assistant manager Pat Rice—still an employee of the club—in the 4-3 win over Burnley on Saturday. Zaha struck a brace in the match for the second game in succession to only further the speculation over his future.
Both Tottenham and Liverpool have also been linked with a move for Zaha of late, with the England Under-21 international said to be valued at £12 million. Zaha, a right-footed winger who can operate either on the right or the left, may well be the man that Arsene wenger has identified to replace Walcott.
The England international has yet to agree to a contract extension with less than 12 months remaining on his current deal. If there is no further progress, Walcott will be able to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with foreign clubs from January.
The 23-year-old already turned down an offer from the club in August and Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood has said they will not be increasing their proposal.
“We have got our general overall wage structure and we are not prepared to break it for anybody,” he said, according to the Sun.
“We have made an offer which he didn’t think was acceptable and that is the end of it. We think it is a very reasonable offer.
“For the moment his people are still talking to us and we hope it will be resolved. But don’t ask me when, because I haven’t a clue.
“I hope that he will eventually come round and sign.
“It will be a pity if he does not but the whole issue of pay for footballers has got totally out of hand and they don’t get terribly well advised a lot of the time.”
In other news, Malaga have said that they will not be allowing reported Arsenal transfer target Isco to leave on the cheap. The Gunners have already profited from the La Liga side’s financial problems with the signing of Santi Cazorla in the summer and reports have suggested that they were also one of a number of clubs interested in 20-year-old Isco.
The likes of Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Juventus have also been linked with a move for the highly-rated attacking midfielder. A Spain Under-21 international, Isco’s reputation was recently enhanced as he struck two sensational goals on Malaga’s Champions League debut, against Zenit St Petersburg last month.
The former Valencia man has a buyout clause of €21 million (£17m) and Malaga sporting director Mario Husillos has said that Isco will not be allowed to leave for less.
"He is our player and is important for the team,” he said, according to Sky Sports. “He is not on the market.
"We want to keep him here but you all know there is a buyout clause in his contract.
"So, if a club pay the clause, it does not depend on us anymore."