Wilfried Zaha: How the Star Midfielder Will Fit in at Manchester United

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistMay 10, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 19: Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace in action during the npower Championship match between Crystal Palace and Bolton at Selhurst Park on January 19, 2013 in London England. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

David Moyes is not the only new piece of the puzzle that has already been assembled at Manchester United for next season. 

Wilfried Zaha, who signed with the Red Devils during the January transfer window, will exchange Selhurst Park for Old Trafford this summer. Zaha was sent back to Crystal Palace on loan for the remainder of the season after signing in January with the Red Devils. 

Most United fans were able to get a glimpse of how the 20-year-old winger plays in Crystal Palace's Friday first leg semi-final against Brighton and Hove Albion. 

In the biggest match of the season for the Eagles, Zaha showed signs of individual brilliance but in the end he was on neither the providing or finishing end of what could have been a crucial goal in the 0-0 draw. 

Zaha started out on the left wing in the first half, but his best display of talent came in the second half when he switched over to the right. 

On most occasions when he gained possession, Zaha was surrounded by multiple defenders, which is something that he will not see as regularly in the English Premier League next season with plenty of superstar teammates on the pitch. 

The creativity and pace that Zaha is known for was visible against Brighton and it will surely translate to the top flight of English football, but the real question is how he will fit into Moyes' squad next season. 

As it is with every new manager at a club, some of the current players in the setup will be handed marching orders out of the red half of Manchester and the player leading that charge most likely will be Nani. 

Just over a month ago, The Mirror reported that the Portuguese winger will be sold in the summer by the club. There will be no lack of potential suitors for the 26-year-old as Juventus (via Metro) and Paris St. Germain (via The Mirror) have been linked to the player. 

With the impending departure of Nani, the Red Devils would be left with Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young and Zaha as possible choices for selection on both wings. 

Both Valencia and Young missed time due to injury this season and they are no guarantee to play the full length of the 38-match EPL schedule next season. 

On the other hand, Zaha has proved in the last three seasons with Crystal Palace that he is a very durable player as he has played over 40 matches in each of the last three seasons. If Zaha can survive the rough and tumble of the Championship, there is no doubt that he can survive the more spread-out fixture list that the EPL provides. 

As for his role on the pitch, Zaha showed on Friday that he could play on either wing, a trait that will give him a better chance of finding a spot in the starting 11 under Moyes at Old Trafford. 

Zaha is a winger that can not be marked by just a full-back for the entire 90 minutes, and by being able to attract a double-team at certain times, he will hand his new teammates plenty of chances in attack. 

With all that being said, Zaha will not just slide into the United lineup and succeed right away without any growing pains. Some of the best players in the game experience growing pains at a new club at some point, but how they respond to those growing pains will determine their fate. 

Based on what we have seen so far at Crystal Palace from Zaha, he will provide United with a valuable replacement for Nani and he could develop into one of the brightest stars to play on the pitch at Old Trafford next season in the first year of the Moyes era. 

Follow me on Twitter: @JTansey90.