independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Crystal Palace star Zaha tops Wenger wish-list

Wanted: Wilfried Zaha (left) is a key January target for Arsenal

ARSENAL intend to launch a formal bid for Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha, with Arsene Wenger determined to add to his attacking options during the January transfer window.

Zaha, an Arsenal fan, has been watched extensively by club scouts during a season in which he has been the outstanding player in the Championship.



Crystal Palace, however, are pushing for promotion back to the Premier League and they will not sell mid-season unless an exceptional offer is forthcoming.



Wenger, the Arsenal manager, has proved repeatedly in the past that he is prepared to wait before signing a key target rather than risk paying an inflated price in the short term, meaning that any deal is more likely in the summer.



Although other leading Premier League clubs are also interested in Zaha, who would cost around £18?million, Arsenal’s track record of giving young players regular first-team football will be in their favour.



This would be important to Zaha, whose opportunities at Arsenal would also be enhanced by the probable departure at some stage next year of Theo Walcott.



Wenger would also like to sign a striker next month to provide competition and support to Olivier Giroud, with Thierry Henry still expected to return to the club again on loan from the New York Red Bulls.



Henry is now 35 but has enjoyed another profitable season in Major League Soccer, scoring 15 goals and providing another 12 assists in only 25 games.



Wenger’s immediate focus is Saturday's Premier League match against West Bromwich Albion.



Arsenal were dealt a further blow on Thursday with confirmation that Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott are unavailable.



Both missed Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat against Olympiakos in Athens and have still not sufficiently recovered from respective hamstring and calf injuries.



Arsenal’s defence is also weakened by the absence of Bacary Sagna (foot) and Laurent Koscielny (thigh).



Wenger is seeking answers to the team’s recent uncharacteristic lack of fluency but, with Podolski and Walcott injured, he is again likely to turn to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gervinho in the wide positions.

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