Andros Townsend hopes 'incredible' Wilfried Zaha will stay at Crystal Palace
Last Updated: 05/05/19 11:37pm
Andros Townsend says Crystal Palace’s players are hoping Wilfried Zaha will decide to stay at Selhurst Park this summer.
Zaha, who returned to Palace on a permanent basis in 2015 after a nightmare two-year spell at Manchester United, signed a five-year contract last summer to become the Eagles' highest-paid player.
But the Ivory Coast forward put his future into doubt last month by hinting he wants to leave Roy Hodgson's side in search of Champions League football but Townsend hopes he will stay.
"We're lucky to have him at Palace and hopefully we can keep him for a little bit longer," Townsend said. "The players, the manager, the staff, the fans all love Wilf and all want him to stay.
"He's a top-class player and, without doubt, the most naturally talented player I've ever played with.
"If you see some of the stuff he does in training on a day-to-day basis, it's incredible.
"But if that day does come this summer, next summer or the summer after where he feels like he has to move on, we'll give him our best wishes."
Zaha's 10th goal of the season - the first time he has reached double figures in a Premier League campaign - set up a 3-2 Palace victory that relegated his former club Cardiff.
The 26-year-old has scored six times since being sent off at Southampton in January for sarcastically applauding referee Andre Marriner's decision to book him after he had squared up to Saints midfielder James Ward-Prowse.
Townsend believes Zaha has learned from that incident.
"I think he had a spell this season where he was picking up yellows for dissent and got a red card against Southampton," Townsend said.
"I think that was the turning point where he realised he had to mature.
"Ever since then he has been incredible for us, he's been in great goal-scoring form when we needed it most.
"He's matured. He's not allowed fouls or bad refereeing decisions to affect him. He's been the talisman we know he can be."