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Manchester United's Wilfried Zaha Should Target World Cup 2014 with England

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Manchester United's Wilfried Zaha Should Target World Cup 2014 with England

According to BBC Sport, Crystal Palace know not to ask. Even if they did, Manchester United would be blind to Wilfried Zaha's steep trajectory if they loaned the winger back to Palace for a second time.

The fact that they signed him in the first place would suggest they're not.

The 20-year-old is ready to graduate. His apprenticeship has been served and Selhurst Park is no longer a stage big enough for Zaha's extravagant talent. Old Trafford, and the reign of David Moyes, is where Zaha will surely take the next leggy strides in a career that may very well see him at the World Cup next summer.

Zaha has already made his international debut. Should England qualify for the finals in Brazil, Zaha stands a respectable season with United away from being on the plane. If he performs to his true potential, he could find himself in the starting XI for their opening group match.

That's how good he is—Sir Alex Ferguson knew it when he made Zaha his last signing at United and Moyes will know it too. As goes the famous footballing cliche, if you're good enough, you're old enough.

The Fergie Fledglings proved this as emphatically as any crop of man-boys before them. Ferguson had already blooded Lee Sharpe and Ryan Giggs by the time the class of David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Co. came of age in the 1995-96 season.

The man before Ferguson, Ron Atkinson, showed the same trust in the teenaged Norman Whiteside.

United have a rich tradition of launching bright young things. You can take things back to the late, great Duncan Edwards (a debutant at 16) for evidence of that and it's a theme that continues with Phil Jones, Rafael, Tom Cleverley and David de Gea today. Zaha will be given the same trust and backing by all concerned.

Moreover, on the evidence of last season, Moyes and United could use a player in his mould. Zaha's dynamic wide play would bring another angle of attack for United. He's a fine team player, capable of beating his man by guile or gas, and he scores goals (eight in the league last season).

As Callum Hamilton of SB Nation points out, United need freshening up on the flanks.

Nani will always blow very hot and very cold, Ashley Young had a disappointing 2012-13 campaign and Antonio Valencia was some way short of the player we know he can be. That leaves Ryan Giggs, who is more function than flair at 39. He's also more commonly used in central areas.

How Zaha might fit in a 4-4-1-1 at United

Danny Welbeck and Shinji Kagawa can operate wide, but both work better in narrower roles and neither is a natural touch-line runner.

Zaha is. As B/R's Darren Richman suggests, he'd work well on the flank in a 4-4-1-1. He'd also be comfortable as either of the wide men in a 4-2-3-1, operating behind the main striker. If needed, he could even play the main striker role.

Zaha in United's 4-2-3-1

It's not just Premier League starters who bring influence either. Zaha would be an ideal invigorator coming off the bench and a fine man to turn to for Capital One and FA Cup matches—providing the players around him with a chance to rest.

In contrast to BBC Sport's piece alluded to earlier, the Daily Mail writes that Palace manager Ian Holloway is keen to extend Zaha's loan at the club and there's little wonder why.

Holloway knows full well it won't happen, though, because he's witnessed Zaha's impact in big matches and knows United didn't pay £15 million to watch a young star blitz in the Premier League in another team's colors.

Loaning him back to Palace at first was smart. United allowed Zaha to close the chapter on his Palace career and also spared him the process of adapting to life under Ferguson and then Moyes.

Like Moyes, Zaha makes a fresh start at Old Trafford in August. Like Moyes, the future is there for the taking. The pair are 30 years apart in age, but their fortunes at United could be entwined over the next five-plus years.

Should Zaha produce on his potential next season, Moyes may have the beginnings of a new United foundation.

If that happens, England manager Roy Hodgson will no doubt be thinking the same and Zaha will be headed for Brazil with a mountain of expectation on his shoulders. 

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