Bayern Munich’s chase of Leroy Sane left the club without a top-class winger. While Ivan Perisic was signed on an initial loan deal from Inter, but the recent injury to Kingsley Coman has only increased the club’s need in that position. With Sane set to come back from injury soon, that isn’t quite a deal that can take place in January. Which is probably why the Bavarians were looking at Wilfried Zaha.
Crystal Palace have already rejected Bayern’s bid for Zaha. The club is now stuck in a situation where they are potentially in a big need for winger, with options fading out quickly. And the days on the clock are running out too.
But Zaha presents a very logical option for the club, if nothing else happens. The former Manchester United man could be allowed to leave the club at any point, as he was keen on a move this past summer. Arsenal did draw links with the winger, but nothing came of it.
While Zaha did stay, his numbers haven’t exactly been prolific. In 22 games in all competitions, Zaha has three goals and three assists to his name. With the club playing without a recognised striker, his numbers were certain to come down.
This season, Zaha has a tally of 5 dribbles per game- the highest in his league career. He has taken only 1.5 shots per game- something that is unnatural for a player like Zaha. But all of Zaha’s goals this season have come from low XG shots, leading to an overperformance on goals by 0.68.
Last season, Zaha’s underperformance had been by 3.51, as he didn’t just convert chances from the left side. He put away chances from central areas. The common pattern that emerges is how the goals from central positions came when Palace got signed Michy Batshuayi on loan from Chelsea.
This season, all of his goals have come from the left side of the pitch. That shows how Zaha is improving as a finisher, as he has also taken much fewer shots per game this season than he did in the last two seasons.
He has been the club’s chief provider of attacking threat sometimes, leading to higher dribbles per game. The club’s lack of a proper target man has had an impact, leading to more reliance on Zaha. Indeed, Zaha has the highest dribbles per game tally for the club, being second-best in the key passes per game stat.
His numbers from the last few seasons haven’t been poor-ever. Last season, he had a hand in 15 goals in 34 games. In the 2017-18 season, he contributed to 12 goals too. Those aren’t poor numbers at all. The fact that he’s underperformed on his XA for the last two seasons shows that with better finishers, they could have been moor.
New Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta had high praise for Zaha recently ahead of the Gunners game at Selhurst Park. He said:
“I think he’s a terrific player and I think the impact he’s had in the Premier League in the last few years has been phenomenal. His ability to create chances on his own is unique. We know Wilf and the type of talent he is. When he gets isolated in one-on-one situations, we know what he can do.”
That is what Bayern wingers Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman do. They like to get the opposition full-backs in one-on-one situations and go past them before finding passes inwards. But this season, Zaha has completed more dribbles per game than them. Gnabry’s numbers stand at 1.7, while Coman’s stand at 3.3.
And unlike at Palace, Zaha will have a top-quality striker to look for in the middle. Robert Lewandowski thrives on service from wide and Zaha moving to Bayern would benefit both parties. Bayern’s loan bid might have been rejected, but he presents the sort of player they need.