When the eyes of the world were watching him, in the £120m game, Wilfried Zaha delivered with a stellar performance that enabled his beloved Crystal Palace to join him in next season’s Premier League.
There was no doubting over the 120 minutes that Ian Holloway’s Palace were the rightful winners and that Zaha was the man-of-the-match.
The young England winger stole the show early on and put in an almost faultless display that suggests he should have enough about him to do well at Manchester United next season.
He was an instrumental part in every Palace attack. He dropped deep to receive the ball, worked hard defensively when needed and looked lethal on either wing. Whilst he did loose the ball at times (what winger doesn’t?) he beat his full-back on more occasions than not.
Whilst clearly he is a player for the future and somebody who will take time to adapt to life in the ‘big-time’ at Old Trafford, he looks to have all the resources needed to become a star. He comes across as a fairly intelligent lad and has clearly spent time practising his game as well as working on his core strengths. He wins the ball far more often in a game than you’d expect from an attacking player of his height and stature and puts himself about when needed.
Despite being only 20, Zaha in football-terms isn’t a kid. He has played over 140 games for Palace so has developed faster than most players of his age. He has progressed through the youth systems to the first-team and has clearly impressed the England hierarchy at the FA with performances at Under-19 and Under-21 level so much that he was virtually fast-tracked into the England set-up to prevent him playing for his native country, the Ivory Coast.
After Palace’s play-off win, Holloway has declared his interest in bringing Zaha back to Selhurst Park next season. Whilst it would be a move that would benefit Palace who need to make major improvements to a squad that many would say has overachieved, Zaha needs to be involved with United next season.
Yes there will certainly be times when he will be on the bench at United, waiting for his time to shine, he will almost certainly get opportunities in the League and in the various Cup competitions and will make starts. He’s a player who can play a big-part for United next season and shouldn’t be allowed out on loan.
Neutrals may say that’s harsh on Palace but it isn’t, they got £12m for their man who was allowed to help them get promotion to the Premier League. £12m + a potential £120m shouldn’t be too hard a pill for the Eagles to swallow.
By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87