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De Boer hails Zaha as the ‘Neymar of Crystal Palace’ after flying start to pre-season

Date Posted,July 23, 2017

Frank De Boer has described Wilfried Zaha as the Neymar of Crystal Palace.

The new Palace boss has been left impressed by the Ivory Coast winger’s trickery and his willingness to run at players at the Asia Trophy in Hong Kong.

De Boer said: “What he has in his skills I think he is a lot like, if we have to give an example, for me it’s Neymar.

“He also has the quick feet and he’s gone. Very skinny, so fast, every touch, every pass.”

Neymar, a current target for French giants PSG , has made himself one of the finest players in the world since moving from Santos to Barcelona in 2013.

De Boer has been mightily impressed by Zaha’s start to pre-season (Image: REUTERS)
Zaha is Palace’s prized asset (Image: AFP)

The Brazilian’s skill at committing players, allied to his outstanding goalscoring ability, has made him part of a fearsome triumvirate alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

On Saturday night, Neymar hit two outstanding goals to sink Juventus, one of them a magnificent individual effort in which he beat five players.

While 24-year-old Zaha can only aspire to reaching such lofty heights, he has made De Boer a believer in his towering potential.

The former Ajax boss played with and against some of the finest players in the world for the Dutch club, Barcelona and Holland.

Neymar: The Wilfried Zaha of Barcelona (Image: REUTERS)
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Zaha has stood out during Palace’s pre-season campaign (Image: REUTERS)

Following Palace’s win over West Brom on Saturday, he hit out at the Baggies players for their treatment of Zaha as they tried – and failed – to contain him.

“He can make some half pass in between and he is away,” said De Boer.

“That’s a quality not many players have – to still (have) control at the highest speed. Neymar has it. If I have to compare with one it’s Neymar.”

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino was impressed enough by Zaha to make a bid for the winger last summer. The north Londoners’ pursuit continued for a year before Zaha committed himself to a new five-year deal at Selhurst Park.

Spurs were interested in taking Zaha last summer (Image: Getty)
De Boer is delighted to have Zaha nailed down for the next season (Image: Getty Images AsiaPac)

De Boer admitted Zaha’s work-rate epitomises what he wants to achieve at the club, building on the work of Sam Allardyce who saved them from relegation.

The brief from the board for De Boer is now to play more attractive football.

He went on: “I think Wilf showed already that he is fantastic offensively and defensively. It’s hard for him but he’s doing a great job. He knows ‘if I help the team they help me’.

“Of course, if Palace sign me they know they are going to see something different. They don’t want last season’s football. Again, great respect for Sam, I would have done the same.

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“Now we have to be a solid club and take the next step. If we are complacent we can’t do it.

“I have a lot of respect for Sam. He saved them. We want something different.

“He was playing a system to survive. If we want to be a solid club we have to do other things and that’s what I am trying to do. Sam did what he had to do, a great job. I’m convinced if he continued this is not the game he likes. If I was manager I would have also done it.

“My work at Ajax – my team was always the team that conceded fewest goals. I am good at that and hopefully we can see that at Crystal Palace. It starts there.”

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