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Why Blues had to drown out the Zaha NOISE.


T WAS difficult to cut through the noise that engulfed Everton's transfer window.

IAnd no tale made as much racket as the one involving the Blues and Wilfried Zaha.

It was a deal that didn't happen and would not stretch beyond a single bid to test the water, yet we listened, watched and read about little else for the best part of two weeks.

But now we can hear ourselves think again, you can begin to fully appreciate why a transfer that had many screaming from the rooftops in excitement never materialised.

And why it was struggling to do so. From a purely footballing point of view, and from where Marco Silva will have asked the club to see if signing Zaha was possible, you can understand it fully.

Zaha is one of, if not the, best forward talents outside of the top six, and the thought of him wreaking havoc on the right-hand side of Everton's attack was tantalising.

A statement signing? You bet. At the peak of his powers, he has effectively kept Crystal Palace's heads above water for the past few seasons with countless match-winning displays, and there were plenty looking at him as the player to elevate the Blues.

And so, as the specific search for a left-footed right-winger drew blanks, as an impasse in Zaha's situation emerged and after a worryingly toothless performance in Mainz brought an urgent plea from Silva to the board, Everton put the feelers out.

Palace rejected an offer of PS52m and, as far as the Blues were concerned, that was case closed.

They were forced to issue an official statement amid reports of a second bid and yet it did nothing to dampen frenzied talk of a third bid, which would peak when Zaha handed in a transfer request.

The noise around Everton, and this saga, was deafening, distracting and incredibly confusing, and it was threatening to drown out all of the good work that had gone before in the window.

The club had delivered a clear message but the situation, in a maelstrom of claim and counter-claim, rumour and suggestion, appeared anything but. Deadline day has always played tricks on your mind.

Mercifully, the closing stages of the final day would actually bring clarity for everyone involved, invested or merely interested in what had turned into a soap opera, when Palace made it clear Zaha would not be going anywhere.

And now there is quiet, it is easier to understand why he was always highly unlikely to come to Everton, at least.

For footballing reasons, it made a whole lot of sense, but financially this was always hard to stack up.

Two reasons, mainly - the transfer fee required for Palace to sell and the wages he would demand.

Zaha was valued at PS80m, around double Everton's record spend on any player, and a sum that would give those concerned with the Financial Fair Play implications, sleepless nights. The most the club would spend on any player this summer was PS28m on Alex Iwobi, with the late nature of the deal, and Silva's need to add a winger, certainly adding a premium.

Had Marcel Brands been told he had an extra PS80m to spend, no doubt he would have made the money work harder and go further. Marquee signings are not his calling card, and they were not in the brief when he took the job.

Because the task he accepted was to make Farhad Moshiri's investment do exactly that - work harder and go further - and trim a bloated squad, slash the wage bill and yet use his expertise to strengthen Everton's options.

Signing Zaha, however good he is, for PS80m and dumping his, reported, PS130,000-a-week wages onto a spreadsheet that had been creaking under the pressure of an annual outlay of PS145m on salaries, didn't make sense. Surely, it would have gone against everything Brands has been trying to do? Logic would have been shouted down, had it gone through.

And the other aspect of Brands' job was to add younger players to the squad, with potential and, we cannot ignore, sell-on value.

Remember what he said about investing significant sums in players aged between 20-25/6? Zaha turns 27 in November and, though at the top of his game, where would a player of his profile have fitted into the long-term strategy? It made a hell of a lot of noise and the excitement over his potential signing reached fever pitch, but, in moments of contemplation, it was a deal that was difficult to reconcile with where Everton are and what they are in need of doing.


Wilfried Zaha - he's not going anywhere, said Crystal PalacePicture: ALEX LIVESEY
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 10, 2019
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