The best thing for Crystal Palace would be to end all of the transfer speculation regarding Wilfried Zaha right now.
The young player is struggling as the rumors continue to swirl. True, it's part of the game—in any professional sport—and learning to tune out the chatter is part of the job. But now that it's clearly affecting one of the club's most significant assets, it's time to either pull the trigger or put the speculation to rest.
It can only help the team.
According to Ian Herbert of The Independent, Crystal Palace is "deeply divided" on whether to send Zaha packing or keep him around:
Herbert reports that although Manchester United and Tottenham have both expressed interest in acquiring Zaha, there could be significant roadblocks with both teams that could hinder the progress of a transfer.
And all of this adds up to Zaha not knowing if he's going to be sent away when he wakes up in the morning.
The season started out a bit rough for Crystal Palace, as it dropped its first three matches of 2012-13. But Zaha was one of the most significant reasons the club was able to right the ship. In 28 total appearances thus far, he has registered five goals to spark the club.
But now, it's obvious that the transfer talk is starting to get to him and that it's starting to interfere with his performance. Even manager Ian Holloway can see it. He told the Mirror:
For the last couple of weeks he’s had his head on other things because it is very hard, as a young man, to keep that level of consistency because people are talking about you. If he does what he did against Stoke, then a Premier League side will come and get him, and if they do, what can I do about it?
Since Dec. 8, Crystal Palace has registered a single win. It has gone 1-4-1, perhaps due in part to the rampant distractions.
Maybe it is in the job description to be able to tune out the talk, but Zaha is young. At 20, he may not know how to tune it out yet—and it takes time.
Eventually, he'll figure it out and, as Holloway told the Mirror, "be disciplined." But the shorter the amount of time Crystal Palace keeps the young star's fate up in the air, the better. It's clearly having an impact, and the sooner it ends, the better off everyone will be.