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Crystal Palace eyeing £17.5m gem likened to De Bruyne if Zaha leaves – report

Crystal Palace have prepared for a future without Wilfried Zaha and the latest reports suggest the club have identified a replacement for the winger.

According to The Athletic, Crystal Palace have identifed Brazilian attacker Matheus Franca as a possible replacement for Zaha.

Zaha, who is a Palace legend, has a contract which expires at the end of June. He has not decided to sign a new contract yet and if he doesn’t the club will have to act quickly to find a replacement.

The report states that if Zaha does leave then Matheus Franca, the 19-year-old forward from Flamengo, is a ‘distinct possibility’ as a replacement.

Palace have been keen on the teenager for most of the season, with Freedman having travelled to Brazil to watch him.

Internacional v Flamengo - Brasileirao 2023
(Photo by Fernando Alves/Getty Images)

Crystal Palace see Franca as a Zaha replacement

Zaha has played 458 times for the Eagles, registering 90 goals and 76 assists throughout his time at the club.

He has typically been a huge reason for Palace staying in the division for over a decade. He is 30 and it wouldn’t be a shock for him to leave. It’s the last big chance of his career.

Meanwhile, Franca is only 19 years-old. The Brazilian attacker is seen as a player with lot of potential. He is young, but he has already made 52 appearances for Flamengo, scoring nine goals.

He reportedly has a £17.5million price tag and has been compared to Kevin De Bruyne and Marcos Llorente.

Despite his potential, it seems a huge risk to see Franca as a potential replacement for Zaha if he leaves. Despite being seen as a possible winger, Franca has actually predominantly played as an attacking midfielder.

The “fantastic” Brazilian is an exciting player, but he still has a lot to learn. If Palace want to replace Zaha, they need to find a good finisher in their prime and have other players like Franca ready in the wings for the future.

Crystal Palace v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League
(Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)

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