Arsenal: Too much Wilfried Zaha, not enough Hakim Ziyech

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 12: Hakim Ziyech of Ajax in action during the Dutch Eredivisie match between Ajax and Utrecht at Johan Cruyff Arena on May 12, 2019 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 12: Hakim Ziyech of Ajax in action during the Dutch Eredivisie match between Ajax and Utrecht at Johan Cruyff Arena on May 12, 2019 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images) /

Arsenal is in need of a pacey winger. At present, it seems as though they are wanting to chase Wilfried Zaha. But why isn’t Hakim Ziyech being considered more seriously?

The Wilfried Zaha to Arsenal transfer rumors started doing the rounds again recently. David Ornstein of BBC Sport recently reported that Crystal Palace winger Zaha is keen to leave this summer and that his preferred new club would be Arsenal, and that Arsenal shares this interest.

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However, I cannot help but ask why? Arsenal are in need of a pacey winger to bring width to the squad and have been linked with a number of players that could fill the role since the summer transfer window opened, but how did they revert back to Zaha?

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The biggest issue is price. Having once again missed out on Champions League, Arsenal will struggle to meet Palace’s crazy high valuation of the Ivorian at £80 million. One of the reasons Palace value Zaha so highly could be that they no longer are financially pressured into making a sale this summer having recently agreed terms with Manchester United to bring Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Old Trafford for around £55m. Not for a lack of trying by Palace during negotiations, but they were unable to remove the 25% sell-on clause they had agreed on when United sold Zaha back to Palace making his price that much higher. The idea of spending that much on Zaha while putting money in United’s back pocket is not an ideal one.

Speaking of Manchester United, there is a reason that Zaha didn’t work out at Old Trafford. He was inconsistent. Zaha is a fantastic player when at his best, but really unexciting and ineffective when he’s not. His only stint at a top club was very unsuccessful. It makes me think back to his time on loan at Cardiff City, where he failed to score a single goal and only provided one measly assist. Although he scored 10 goals and provided 10 assists across all competitions this past season for Palace, his inconsistency does not warrant an £80 million price tag, period!

More importantly, with Arsenal’s reportedly low summer transfer purse of £45m, they would likely have to make multiple player sales before ever even entertaining the idea of putting a bid in for Zaha. And the players that they might have to let go to afford Zaha might upset fans around the world.

Recent reports have stated that Arsenal would have to part ways with their Golden Boot winner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in order to afford Zaha. A proven goalscorer replaced by a player that could turn out to be great or could end up failing? Not preferable. More realistically, it was reported that Henrikh Mkhitaryan could be the player to make way to afford the Ivorian winger, but again, I must ask why? Why spend money accrued from player sales on an £80 million Zaha when there are more affordable, and in my opinion, better options out there?

More specifically, I’m speaking about Morocco International and Ajax player Hakim Ziyech. Ajax technical director Marc Overmars stated earlier this month that Ziyech was free to leave Ajax this summer and would be available for around only £25-30m. Ziyech is also only 26-years-old, like Zaha, and would reportedly prefer to go to a club who plays Arsenal’s style of play. When this news broke, the Gunners were said to be considering a bid for last year’s Ajax Player of the Season. So why haven’t we heard anything since?

Ziyech scored 21 goals and provided 24 assists across all competitions last season, including vital contributions during Ajax’s long Champions League run. He has continued his fine form in the African Cup of Nations this summer. Ziyech played from the wide position this past season with Ajax but also showed he could play in a central role also. His flexibility gives Arsenal depth and options at multiple positions, providing Emery with the tactical flexibility that he loves each and every game.

Sure, Zaha has proved at times that he has what it takes to succeed in the Premier League while Ziyech could find the transition from Amsterdam to England’s top flight troubling, but why take an £80 million risk on a player who has proved inconsistent in the past and who’s production was half of what Ziyech was able to do just a season ago?

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Ziyech represents a signing that all Arsenal fans can back and get excited about. And all for a price tag of almost £50m less than Zaha. Why aren’t we hearing more about a potential move for Ziyech?