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Rumour Mongering: Reds Want AFCON-Bound Player to Cover for AFCON-Bound Player

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According to the rumour mongers, Liverpool are plotting a move for Wilfried Zaha to cover for Sadio Mané.

Crystal Palace v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

Sadio Mané is set to head to the Africa Cup of Nations next month. With Danny Ings out for the year and Daniel Sturridge something of an ongoing injury concern, Philippe Coutinho’s recent injury showed just how thin the club is in attack. Put together, this has meant plenty of rumours about potential cover being brought in.

Today, a new name has been added to the list, and it’s a name that has been linked with a Liverpool move in the past: Wilfried Zaha. Zaha has been a standout for struggling Crystal Palace so far this season and, like Mané, he provides speed and trickery from wide positions and has scored three goals and eight assists this season.

It works out to a goal or assist every 125 minutes, which is impressive given Palace currently sit 17th, one point clear of safety. Of course, it’s worth noting that Palace’s struggles haven’t been scoring goals—they’re actually sixth best in the league at it. Despite their table position, they do a lot of damage in the attacking third.

Zaha, clearly, deserves some of the credit for that. But it’s hardly a situation where he is the standout in a side otherwise struggling for attacking incisiveness. He is a solid attacking contributor in a solid attacking side who find themselves threatened with relegation because they cannot defend with any kind of competency.

As for the price, after Palace reportedly turned down a £20M bid for Zaha from Tottenham over the summer, the suggestion is that the player would cost Liverpool closer to £30M should they want to bring him in to add depth to the squad when everyone is fit and, perhaps, to cover for Sadio Mané when he heads to the AFCON.

And on that front, “perhaps” is the key word. Because Zaha has formally requested clearance from FIFA to represent Cote d’Ivoire despite that he has two senior England caps. Such a switch isn’t unheard of, and should Zaha get his wish, he will be heading off to the Africa Cup of Nations next month just like Mané.

So. Thirty million pounds for a solid performer on one of this season’s relegation favourites to cover for a player who’s heading to AFCON, and that player in the end stands a good chance of also heading to AFCON. That’s not any kind of math that adds up to a convincing transfer rumour in our books.