Mamadou Sakho insists he and his Crystal Palace teammates have not been affected by the recent speculation regarding Wilfried Zaha’s future.
The Ivory Coast international has been heavily linked with a move away from Selhurst Park, with both Arsenal and Everton lodging bids throughout the summer transfer window.
Wilfried Zaha’s future: Five key things to know…
- Since returning to Palace in 2014, Zaha has scored 32 goals in 163 Premier League games.
- The Ivory Coast winger signed a new contract in August 2018.
- That deal should have kept him at Selhurst Park until June 2023.
- But Everton and Arsenal have both bid for Zaha this summer.
- Neither club have met Palace’s £80m asking price, though.
With Arsenal set to sign Nicolas Pepe from Lille, the Toffees are now favourites to land Zaha, although Palace are holding firm with their £80m asking price.
But despite the ongoing tug of war for Roy Hodgson’s star man, Sakho has confirmed it’s been business as usual in south London as Palace continue their preparations for the 2019/20 Premier League season.
“No,” Sakho replied when asked if the Zaha speculation had caused a distraction for his Crystal Palace teammates.
“I have played for different teams, such as PSG and Liverpool. Every pre-season you have a lot of names and newspapers.
“For us, I think the team has worked really hard in pre-season. We are players, we have to talk on the pitch. Outside [of that] is like the wind.
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“We are all working hard to be the best we can. Wilf is a really good player, we all know that. Just like Christian [Benteke] is, like [James] Tomkins is, like lots of players.”
Sakho played an hour of the Eagles’ 2-2 friendly draw with AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday after spending five months sidelined with a knee injury.
And the France international is now fully focused on regaining his fitness, having sacrificed his summer holidays in a bid to be ready for Palace’s opener against Everton – a potential grudge match, depending on the outcome of the Zaha transfer saga.
“All the physios and doctors did a great job,” said Sakho.
“I have worked really hard, even during the holidays. I was in Dubai and I was working there. I went to Miami and I was working hard.
“I feel good and I am happy after five months out. I am working hard to come back as soon as possible and to give everything I can for this squad, like always.”