Wilfred Zaha Signs A New Contract – So What?

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The Palace fans on the internet seem to be wetting themselves that Wilfred Zaha has signed a new contract. I couldn’t be more unmoved if I tried.

Before I get in to the meat of my opinion let me make one thing perfectly clear. I think Wilfred Zaha is a great player and he will only get better! If you asked me which one player I think we should keep at all costs I would answer without a doubt, Wilfred Zaha!

I have no beef whatsoever about Wilf getting a new contract. I have no beef whatsoever about Wilf getting a massive pay rise. What I am confused about is that everyone seems to be coming in their pants about him signing a new contract.

First and foremost, it isn’t a contract extension! What’s the difference? A contract extension, as the name suggests, extends a contract and all the same terms and conditions apply. Wilf has signed a new contract with new terms and conditions therein.

I am not pretending to know the details of his contract but that doesn’t matter. Steve Parish said it is a new contract but some people are reporting it as an extension. The difference does matter. And this is why I am so… meh… about this news.

Steve Parish said on BT Sport on April 30th that Wilf has three (though some say he said four) years left on his current deal and he wasn’t going anywhere. Cool, so the fact he just signed a new five year deal shouldn’t mean we all go gooey that he is staying. He’d have stayed anyway, according to Parish.

Why would the club offer Wilf a new contract then?

There is only one main reason the club would offer Wilf a new contract and that is to make his fee bigger, should he leave in the future.

The longer a player has left on his contract the bigger the fee he attracts. So if he was worth £30m with three years left he could be worth £50m with five years left.

Of course it is beneficial to have Wilf under contract for an extra two seasons but we all know what a contract is worth these days.

Why would Wilf sign a new contract if he wants to leave?

I didn’t say he wanted to leave, however last summer he did have the hump and wanted to be able to speak to Spurs when he was refused a new contract by Pardew who cited that he did not deserved a new deal.

That aside, he knows the club wants to keep hold of him and he would be unlikely to get a move this summer as Parish is intent on keeping him. He could have held out for 2 years to force a move like Berahino did when he was at West Brom though Wilf isn’t that type of person.

In the long run he is ambitious and it wouldn’t help him whatsoever if he dug his heels in. He also wouldn’t want to break the bond he has with the club and the supporters baring in mind his family live in the area.

The far more sensible thing to do is to sign a new contract, increasing his wages by 3x (or 2x depending on what you believe) and have his agent insert certain clauses.

What type of clauses would be in his contract?

Any agent worth his (or her) money would have clauses inserted into his client’s contract. This is perfectly normal and Wilf is in a much better bargaining position now than when he left Manchester United.

At the very least the contract will have:

  • A relegation release clause. If we are relegated he can leave. Sometimes there is a set fee or a minimum fee.
  • Assist bonus, goal bonus, appearance bonus, unused substitute bonus, etc.
  • Performance bonus. If he is in, say, the Premier League team of the year or wins player of the month he gets a bonus.

The contract may also contain one of the following:

  • Minimum release fee. If, for example, there is a minimum release fee of £50m in the contract then we have to let Wilf leave if a bid equal to or greater than this is met.
  • Equal highest earner. If we sign another player who is paid more than Wilf, he gets a pay rise to match the new player’s wages.
  • Shirt number preference. So Wilf can always insist on having, say, the number 7 if he wanted it.
  • European qualification release clause. If a team qualifies for a European competition we have to allow Wilf to speak to the team. This would probably be coupled with a minimum fee too.
  • Foreign team clause. If a stipulated team, say Barcelona or Bayern Munich, bid he we have to allow Wilf to speak to them. Again, this would probably be coupled with a minimum fee

I could go on but there is little point.

These clauses are perfectly normal for top players to have in their contracts, especially at clubs struggling to keep hold of them. If they are in Wilf’s contract it would not reflect badly on him in my opinion.

We don’t, and maybe won’t ever, know what is in his contract but I find it highly unlikely that there would not be any clauses at all over and beyond the relegation release and bonus clauses.

Conclusion

Of course, this is all conjecture. All we know for sure is Wilf has signed a new contract and he has a pay rise to reflect his value to the team. According to Parish he wasn’t going to go anywhere anyway, so why the euphoria?

It doesn’t mean Wilf will definitely be a Palace player next season does it? Remember we gave Dwight Gayle a new contract in January last year only to sell him 5 months later. At the time everyone thought it meant he was integral to Pardew’s plans.

Wilf has improved a lot over the last 12 months. He has had to because a lot was placed on his shoulders after Bolasie left and Townsend had an unimpressive first half of the season.

Can he improve? Yes! His final ball can still be a lot better as can his shooting but he is improving. I think Allardyce and his staff’s coaching methods have improved a few of the players and let’s hope this continues.

But really. Is this really worth going nuts over? It’s like my girlfriend walking in to me and informing me she isn’t leaving me where I didn’t think she would be.

I know, call me a miserable old bastard if you like but for me this is a non-story. I’m much happier Damien Delaney and Julian Speroni signed new one-year contracts because it means they are not leaving!

So, to conclude… meh!

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