Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha has claimed that his early career to Manchester United came too soon, and that Premier League referees have an agenda against him after being booked for diving.
In an in-depth interview with Sky Sports, the Ivory Coast international spoke candidly about his early career struggles, when he moved to Man Utd as a 20-year-old but failed to impress. Zaha said:
"Me going to a big club when I was like 19 or 20, I didn’t know what to expect, how to behave, whatever. I was just a youngster who wanted to do tricks, I didn’t even care about end product really.
"Now I take things a lot more seriously – the gym aspect, recovery after games, my decision-making. I’ve learnt a lot in terms of my all-round game. I’m totally different now. I’m definitely more mature and more strong-minded. I had to be mentally strong after what I went through at United. I think in football, most of it is just mental. Once you’ve got that sorted, you’re good.”
The 25-year-old forward also discussed his booking he received for simulation against Watford last weekend, and claimed that Premier League referees have a vendetta against him. The former England Under-21 ace said: "I’ve seen so many others dive but nobody makes a commotion the same way they do with me, trying to get me banned.
“I don’t get banned because I don’t dive, but why does everyone want me to get banned so much? I feel like, going into games, referees literally just jump on the bandwagon.”
Meanwhile, the Eagles are believed to be leading the race to sign Anderlecht's highly rated midfielder Leander Dendoncker in the summer transfer window. The 23-year-old made six appearances for his side in the Champions League this season before their elimination, and is capable of playing either as a defensive or attacking midfielder.