Palace boss tips Liverpool and Spurs target for top after Wolves brace
23:20 02 October 2012
Crystal Palace manager Dougie Freedman believes Wilfried Zaha will be a star at the highest level but believes he will be able to hold on to the England Under-21 international until the time is right to let him fly the nest.
Freedman was talking up Zaha’s potential after watching him score a superb brace to see off Wolves 2-1 and end the home side’s four-match winning run in the npower Championship.
The 19-year-old winger, who penned a five-and-a-half year deal in December last year, has been linked with a host of Barclays Premier League clubs including Liverpool and Tottenham.
On the evidence of tonight’s showing Zaha certainly has the talent, but Freedman is confident he can keep hold of the teenager, having worked with him for five years coming up through the youth ranks at the London club.
“The kid’s got huge potential and hopefully he can fulfil that,” said Freedman, who felt his side fully deserved victory over Wolves.
“He’s working hard, I think his off-the-ball movement is getting better, he’s developing his game.
“Wilfried can play at the top level if he continues going with his movement, he’s got wonderful technique and ability. His all-round game is coming together.”
Asked about interest from potential suitors, Freedman added: “It’s a little bit different at this club because, under my leadership, I’ve known that kid since 14 years of age, it’s a relationship which goes a little bit further than contracts.
“When he’s ready and when I think he’s ready to let him go to the right club, I will tap Wilfried on the shoulder and tell him I can’t help him no longer.
“It’s a little bit different with my kids, the relationship has been there a long time.”
Zaha shone all night at Molineux and and could count himself unlucky not to have been awarded a first-half penalty when controversially charged from behind by Bakary Sako.
Damien Delaney’s defensive hesitancy handed Sylvan Ebanks-Blake the opportunity to fire Wolves into the lead early in the second half.
Kevin Doyle then hit the crossbar for the hosts before Zaha’s dazzling run created a 67th-minute opening to level matters - his first goal of the season.
And if his first was impressive then his second goal was spectacular, turning with his back to goal 20 yards out before firing an unstoppable shot into the top corner.
It was enough to secure a fifth win in six unbeaten matches for Freedman’s side.