The Red Devils were believed to be locked in a race with other Premier League clubs including Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur to try and sign the 20-year-old winger over the transfer window, after it was revealed that Zaha wanted a move to the top division.
However, according to the latest reports from ESPN and other media outlets United are the clear favorites to sign Zaha, with the forward likely to join at the end of the current season.
Manchester United feel they have moved ahead in the race for Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha and are fully confident of signing the forward in the summer, ESPN has learned.
Although Arsenal have long been seen as favourites to eventually secure Zaha’s signature, the player is understood to have had his head turned by United and, particularly, the current position in the table of the two clubs.
The report goes on to suggest that United have gained an advantage over Arsenal in the negotiating stakes by offering to loan Zaha back to Palace for the remainder of the season. The Eagles will likely need their star player to earn promotion at the end of the year.
The Red Devils do not need a winger at the present time, with Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young and Nani all present at Old Trafford, and thus could survive the period without Zaha with ease. However, with Nani continuing to be linked with a move away, bringing in a new talent such as Zaha might be exactly what the Manchester club need at the start of next season.
By contrast, Arsenal, who are believed to be a close second behind United in the race for Zaha, would not be able to loan the 20-year-old back to his current club.
They do not sit seven points clear on top of the table with an abundance of wingers and would therefore like to use Zaha now in their quest for a top-four spot.
And that could well turn out to be the difference here for Crystal Palace, who have already indicated that they will sell Zaha if a big offer comes along. Several staff at the club have recently commented that a substantial offer would be hard to refuse and that they would most likely take the money for Zaha, though they would like him to stay at the club until the end of the year.
Which, to me, sounds a lot like a potential loan deal, especially when you consider the comments that Palace staff have made during the week.
First Palace chairman Steve Parish via Talksport (h/t ESPN):
Right now, we’re concentrating on trying to get out of this league and the best way of doing that is adding to what we’ve got—not losing players.
I think he [Wilfried Zaha] will be a Palace player until the summer and then we will look at it. Obviously, we will look at anything that anybody offers us because we would be mad not to.
If we feel we can move the club forward from doing certain things, then we will. So, never say never. But, right now, we are focused on trying to keep everyone in the squad...
That was then followed by a very interesting quote from Palace manager Ian Holloway, who spoke about the past transfer mistakes he has made at the club and how he desperately wanted to learn from them here with Zaha.
I’m completely and utterly in charge of anyone that might come to the club. What I’m not in charge of is, as I had at Blackpool, if someone wants to leave the club and there’s a massive offer on the table.
Do you stand in Charlie Adam’s way? Or wouldn’t it have been better selling him and playing without him for the rest of the season? I think we should have sold him—it broke my heart [making the wrong decision].
If it [a large offer for Zaha comes in] happens am I in control? Probably not. Is my chairman in control? Probably not. We'll look at the deals, say, if there are deals but why worry about something that hasn't happened?
I'm sure the directors, who saved the club with their money, will have a say about how much they might want if it happens—is there a deal where we get him back as well?
Who knows? I'm only concerned about my team and Wilf being a part of that team and playing as well as he did in our last game.
With the luxury of being in front and having a strong squad on hand, Manchester United have the advantage of being able to sell Zaha back to Crystal Palace—which it seems the club not-so-secretly wants to happen for the rest of this year.
Where Arsenal would be forced into trying to utilize Zaha now, Sir Alex Ferguson can continue to let the player develop at the club he's currently at, keep him and his team's board happy, and still win in the transfer battle for the England international.
There is little doubting Zaha's potential as a playmaker—one that could become a future household name flying down the touchline at Old Trafford .
That is, if he makes a move to United at all this winter. At the moment, it looks like it could very well go ahead, but you simply never know what can happen.
After all, they don't call it the silly season for nothing.
Will Manchester United sign Wilfried Zaha this transfer window?
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