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In Focus: Zaha exits Palace in quest for Turkish crown
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Dan Fitch
Wilfried Zaha left Crystal Palace for Galatasaray
Wilfried Zaha left Crystal Palace for Galatasaray

Wilfried Zaha sparked surprise with his decision to join Galatasaray. 

The Crystal Palace legend was offered a huge deal to remain with the South Londoners. 

With the winger having also reportedly held talks with Lazio, Napoli and Paris Saint-Germain, as well as receiving offers from Saudi Arabia, he was not short of options. 

As Zaha settles into life in Istanbul, we take a look at the reasons behind the Ivory Coast international's choice. 

Friendly advice

Zaha has revealed that he sought advice from his former Crystal Palace team-mate Patrick van Aanholt and Chelsea legend Didier Drogba, who both played for Galatasaray. 

He said: "I've asked a few friends, I asked Patrick van Aanholt who came here, I asked Drogba and he told me it was amazing. I just can't wait to step in here and see it for myself."

The 30-year-old received a huge welcome from the fans of the Istanbul giants upon his arrival. 

Zaha said: "It was amazing. I didn't expect so many people to be there. It's great to be welcomed to this big club the way I was. 

"My message is when I put on the shirt I always give 100% and I look forward to winning hopefully the league this season with all the fans." 

Champions League

Wilfried Zaha signed a three-year deal with Galatasaray (Credit: @Galatasaray)
Wilfried Zaha signed a three-year deal with Galatasaray (Credit: @Galatasaray)

Part of Zaha's motivation to leave Palace was the chance to play in Europe and in particular the Champions League. 

He said: "Obviously this will be my first opportunity to be part of the Champions League. 

"So my mindset is to come here and do my best, try and help the club win titles and get as far as possible." 

How far Galatasaray can go in the Champions League is up for debate. They are currently involved in the second qualifying round, where they drew 2-2 in the away leg with Lithuanian outfit Zalgiris. 

On Wednesday, the Turkish champions host the return leg, when Zaha could make his debut. 

If they progress, the side will have to navigate through a third qualifying round and then the play-off round to reach the group stage. 

Zaha had interest from clubs that will automatically enter the Champions League and that would seem to have far more chance to reach the knockout stages. 

Big fish

Wilfried Zaha's influence at Crystal Palace waned in his final season at Selhurst Park
Wilfried Zaha's influence at Crystal Palace waned in his final season at Selhurst Park

Money does not seem to have been the motivation for Zaha's move. Galatasaray are paying a signing-on fee of £2million and an annual salary of around £3.75m.

Palace were reported to be offering their talisman a salary of £200,000-a-week to remain at Selhurt Park, while clubs in Saudi Arabia could have paid even more. 

Zaha's decision to join Galatasaray may not seem logical but perhaps he has been attracted by more than financial reward.

Although head coach Okan Buruk boasts the likes of Nicolo Zaniolo and Dries Mertens among his ranks — with last season's loanee Mauro Icardi also set to re-join on a permanent deal — Zaha could yet be the star performer.

There is a strong argument that the forward can prove to be not just the best player at his new team but also the Super Lig as a whole. 

Zaha can make a huge difference, at one of Europe's most historic and decorated clubs, who have a hugely passionate fanbase. 

In an age when the decisions of footballers are made with the head, this one may have used his heart.


Wilfried ZahaGalatasaraySuper LigCrystal PalacePremier League
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