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Danny Gabbidon says top four ‘essential’ to keeping Declan Rice, wants Palace to ‘reward Zaha with exit’ and offers Bale advice

| 08.04.2021

Former Wales international Danny Gabbidon played in the Premier League for West Ham, QPR and Crystal Palace.

We caught up with the former defender to get his thoughts on West Ham, what he thinks Palace should do with Wilfried Zaha and what advice he’d give Gareth Bale.

Danny will also be giving us his Crystal Palace v Chelsea 5-A-Side team over the coming days on our social channels.

Top four finish is ‘essential’ to keeping Rice

I’d absolutely be worried if I was a West Ham fan that someone might come in for Declan Rice in the summer. A top four finish could be essential for them if they want to keep hold of Rice.

He’s developing at an alarming rate; the more games he plays, the better he gets. Initially there was a bit of stick with him coming into the England squad but he’s dispelled a lot of that negativity through his performances.

He’s durable; he’s played so many minutes this season, and he’s always there as a leader. He’s become captain of the club which has seen him develop as a person even more.

His performances last season saw Chelsea linked with him last summer, and you do feel that West Ham will need to keep progressing if they want to keep Declan Rice happy at the club.

He certainly looks happy enough at the moment to be fair to him, you see his tweets on social media and it looks like he’s really enjoying the team spirit that they’ve developed at West Ham this season. There’s also a danger of moving to a bigger club where all of a sudden you’re a small fish in a big pond, and maybe you don’t play as much.

Certainly at West Ham at the moment he’s the main man, he’s playing week-in, week-out and that’s why he’s developed as much as he has done in recent years.

Keeping Lingard is a MUST for West Ham

I think it’s a must for West Ham to try and get Jesse Lingard through the door permanently in the summer. The only issue is that he’s done so well in a West Ham shirt he’s put himself in the shop window for someone else to come in and get him. That will be the worry for West Ham.

I think they need to go all out to get Lingard. The difference he’s made has been amazing. He looks like he’s enjoying his football again and he looks like he’s enjoying being a part of that West Ham environment.

It’s up to Jesse though, really. Maybe there’s a future for him at Manchester United if he wants to go back and try and force his way into the first team again.

But from a West Ham point of view, he just brings that extra kind of quality that they needed at an important time in the season.

You just never know with West Ham, though. You never know with the owners there; what the fans want, generally the owners tend to go the other way. But I’m sure David Moyes will be speaking to them and telling them they need to do everything in their power to make sure they get him in on a permanent basis.

It just depends how much he’s going to cost, because with every goal he scores or creates he’s probably adding another million onto his value.

Palace should reward Zaha for his services by letting him leave

I have to say I’m surprised Wilfried Zaha is still at Crystal Palace – and I don’t think it’s all his fault.

Crystal Palace are aware that Wilf is there best player and they’ve done everything they can to hold on to him. You could probably say they’ve priced him out of a move; there’s been interest over the past few years where clubs have felt unwilling to pay the transfer fee Palace have commanded.

I feel for him in that respect because as a player you want to better yourself and you want to push on to a Champions League team.

You could see the talent Wilf had from an early age. I played alongside him in the Championship in the year we got promoted and then again in the season after that in the Premier League and that was when he really burst onto the scene.

He got his move to Manchester United but that didn’t work out, so it suited Wilf to go back to Palace where he could be the main man. Palace have played a big part in resurrecting him and getting him back to being the player we all thought he was going to be.

But he’s 28 now and he’s expressed his desire to move on but Palace haven’t allowed that to happen. So I’m a little disappointed for him there, to be honest, but he’s such an important cog in the Palace wheel that it would be desperate times for them if they moved on because he’d be so difficult to replace.

We’re coming to the end of the season and I’m sure he’ll be assessing things in the summer. Maybe he’ll try again to get a move.

He’s been unlucky because he was linked with Arsenal before they signed Nicolas Pepe. They could’ve got Zaha for less than Pepe and they’d have had a better player in Wilf, a proven Premier League player.

So he missed out there, and the other move on the cards was Everton, who of course took Alex Iwobi when Pepe joined Arsenal. Again, they could have got Zaha for £60m but they dished out the best part of £40m on Iwobi. In that sense Zaha has been really unlucky

It must be frustrating as a player when you know you’re playing at a certain level and you’ve maybe outgrown your club. You want to move on and test yourself at a higher level, but the club haven’t really got on board with that.

But you’ve got to look at the club’s point of view as well, and you can understand them not wanting to sell him because there aren’t many players out there you can go and replace him with. There aren’t many players out there that are as good as Wilf.

I just feel at 28, he’s at a point in his career where Palace should reward him with a move just for his services to the club. He’s got to a point where he deserves it now, and they could still get around £40m. In a couple of years from now they wouldn’t be able to get that fee, so I’d like to see both parties come to an agreement.

If Wilf wants to leave in the summer, I’d like to see Palace be a bit realistic about it, lower the fee, take £40m, get someone in to replace him and send him off with their best wishes.

Top four predictions

The Premier League title is already wrapped up so Man City will obviously take the first spot in the table. Then behind them I’d say Man United will finish second – I can’t see anyone taking that spot from them. Leicester have obviously been very good but I think United will probably be too strong for anyone to catch them.

I think Leicester will end up in third place, they’ve done very well under Brendan Rodgers. It’s that fourth spot which everyone is talking about. Obviously West Ham occupy it at the moment but every team below them as far as Everton will fancy their chances. It really is up for grabs between five sides.

If I had to pick I’d probably say Chelsea make it. I just feel that with the squad they’ve got, now that we’re at the business end of the season and Thomas Tuchel has had a few weeks with his players, they’ll come out on top.

Player of the Season

Bruno Fernandes has had a good season, there’s no debating that. But I can’t go with a Man United player as my Player of the Season.

Jack Grealish has been good. Has Harry Kane done enough to win it? I can’t give it to Kane when Tottenham are sat in sixth place in the table.

Ruben Dias would be my Player of the Season. He’s been key for Man City, as well. Kevin De Bruyne has been unbelievable, but as part of the Defenders Union, I’m going with Ruben Dias.

Last season you look at that team and the City fans were adamant they’d lost the league because Aymeric Laporte had got injured.

They brought Dias in, and the way he’s transformed them, and when Pep Guardiola has rotated things, Dias has been the constant. That just shows the influence he’s had on that team. He seems to have everything, he’s good on the ball and he looks like a great leader.

It’s like Trent Alexander-Arnold doesn’t want to defend

That right-back position is probably the biggest conundrum Gareth Southgate will have this summer, because he’s blessed with at least five quality players who you could probably make a case for.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka is someone you have to look at for me, because he does offer something different to the other names; in terms of defending, there’s arguably no one better in the Premier League in a one-on-one situation so the further you progress at the Euros, the tougher the opponents will be. So having someone like that who can defend well against the likes of Eden Hazard is something Southgate should think about.

Reece James has played his way into contention, and he’s probably the most rounded player of the lot so he deserves a place in the squad as far as I’m concerned.

I think Trent Alexander-Arnold does offer you something going forward, there’s no disputing that. Harry Kane could have a lot of success from Trent’s crosses.

It’s a difficult situation with Trent right now because he’s just not playing well. He’s not defending, he doesn’t look like he wants to defend. For me, at times it’s like he has no interest in defending, like he doesn’t enjoy it.

If I’m Trent Alexander-Arnold, I’m worrying at the moment. Missing out on the last England squad, playing how I did against Real Madrid and seeing the form of the other players I’m competing against, he could end up being the one that misses out in the summer.

If I had to pick three, I’d say Reece James, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Aaron Wan-Bissaka. That way, you could still get away with taking Kyle Walker as a central defender in a back three if that’s a tactic Gareth want to try out.

Gareth Bale’s next move

I think it’s just been a strange season all round for Gareth Bale.

Obviously he came back to Tottenham to play games, he was desperate to play regular first-team football and everyone was delighted to have him back. But he hasn’t really played. He’s had one or two niggles with injuries and when he did play he wasn’t really performing. So then he’d only get chances from off the bench, or at times he wasn’t even coming off the bench.

Then he had that spell of four or fives games recently where it looked like he’d found a bit of form, but now he’s back on the bench.

He does seem a lot happier in himself, but I think it’s because he’s got a couple of the Welsh lads around him and he’s enjoying the banter. But from a playing perspective, I wouldn’t really say it’s gone the way he would’ve wanted.

He’s already said he’s going back to Madrid in the summer and he’s got one year left on his contract, but if Zinedine Zidane is still in charge there, then he’s going to have to leave. Bridges have been burnt there.

Where does he go if he leaves Madrid? It’s going to be an interesting summer for him. There’s only really a couple of clubs that could afford him, but then the issue is that he’s not the Gareth Bale of old. He’s not the player that he used to be, he does pick up injuries throughout the season so you have to wrap him up in cotton wool.

Does anyone want to pay him £400k a week when he’s only probably going to be available for 60% of the season? He’s not the player he used to be and he’s 31 years of age – he’ll be 32 by the time next season starts – so that’s the dilemma for Bale and his agent, how they can generate interest.

They might have to be a bit more realistic with their terms and lower what they want. When I got to that part of my career, it wasn’t about the money, I just wanted to play football.

You look at the amount of money he’s earned throughout his career, he’s certainly not going to struggle for money when he hangs his boots up. So for me it might be about adopting that attitude, where it just becomes more about playing football and enjoying the back end of his career.

If he does that, you can guarantee he’ll have a lot more options open to him. Who knows, maybe he even goes back to Cardiff City for a couple of seasons and does a job for them!

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