The Wilfried Zaha transfer saga is finally over. The striker will join Manchester United in the summer after the Premier League club reached an agreement with Championship side Crystal Palace, according to the Press Association (via The Guardian).
UPDATE: Friday, Jan. 25, at 1:55 p.m. ET by Tim Daniels
No unexpected roadblocks emerged during Zaha's physical and he's now inked a five-and-a-half year contract with United, Sky Sports reports.
Wilfried Zaha has passed his medical at Manchester Utd. Sky sources report he has signed a five-and-a-half year deal. #SSN— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) January 25, 2013
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As expected, after the sides struck a deal for the 20-year-old Zaha's services, he was immediately loaned back to the Eagles for the remainder of the season. The rising star made a statement following the move finally becoming official:
I am delighted to be joining Manchester United and ending the recent speculation. I would like to thank the owners at Palace for making the move possible, however my focus for the next five months will be solely at Crystal Palace. I have been at Palace for more than 10 years, I will always love the club and I want to help get them get back to the Premier League, particularly for the fans who have always been so good to me.
The young England international was one of the most popular names bantered about since the January transfer window opened, but it always seemed like the Red Devils had an edge. Now they can be relieved a deal is finally done.
By immediately loaning him back to Crystal Palace, it allows Zaha to continue his development for several more months before officially making his presence felt at Old Trafford. It would have been difficult for him to make a midseason impact.
The Red Devils are getting a player with terrific speed, good finishing ability and immense upside. He still has work to do before he reaches that potential, but playing alongside all the talented United players should accelerate the process starting in summer.
While he's got enough skill to serve as a club's main striker, he will likely play more of a winger role for the Red Devils once he gets comfortable. Of course, the club's last marquee addition, Robin van Persie, is the go-to striker for United.
It's a move with an eye on the future by Sir Alex Ferguson. He knows Zaha will have to fight in order to earn a regular lineup spot in the coming years, but also understands what he can bring to the club if he does reach that aforementioned potential.
He's a star in the making. Now he must get prepared to live up to the hype starting in July.