Manchester United’s tricky winger Wilfried Zaha is currently on a season-long loan at Crystal Palace – the club where he initially made his name. The 22-year-old is set to return to the Red Devils in the summer, but does his future lie away from Old Trafford?
A young Wilfried Zaha broke on to the scene for Crystal Palace in 2010. The then 17-year-old made his debut against Cardiff City and never looked back. As Zaha progressed, so did Crystal Palace – he went onto play over 100 times for the Eagles in a very successful two-and-a-half year stay at Selhurst Park. The winger played a pivotal part in Crystal Palace’s promotion to the Premier League in 2013 – he played 50 times for the south London club and won the all important penalty for Kevin Phillips to convert in the 1-0 Championship play-off final victory over Watford. He also won his first England cap in a 4-2 defeat against Sweden in November 2012.
Zaha’s consistent performances for the Eagles led to Sir Alex Ferguson splashing out £15million to bring him to Old Trafford – the agreement was already done and dusted in January 2013, and he was loaned back to Palace for the remainder of the season. The exciting winger made his debut for United in the 2-0 Community Shield win over Wigan. Zaha struggled to make an instant impression on Ferguson and his game time at United was at a premium – he’s only made four appearances at Old Trafford since joining in 2013.
His lack of game time with the Red Devils led to Cardiff City taking a punt on him in January 2014. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s connection with Manchester United made the Bluebirds the best suitors for Zaha, and he signed on-loan for the rest of the season. But the winger also failed to make an impact at the Cardiff City Stadium – the Welsh club suffered a disastrous season – which ended in relegation back to the Championship after just one year in the top flight. The England international only played 13 times for the Bluebirds in what was a very unsuccessful stay.
At the start of this season, Palace’s former boss Neil Warnock persuaded United to let him have the winger for a season-long loan. Zaha would have hoped the move back to where it all began for him would have resurrected his dwindling career. The 22-year-old has played 15 times in all competitions for the Eagles this term – scoring once – which was a last minute leveller in his first game since returning – in a 3-3 draw with Newcastle United.
Since returning to Selhurst Park, Zaha hasn’t quite lived up to those dizzy heights he set in his first spell with the club. Despite some tireless performances, the Eagles’ other tricky winger Yannick Bolasie, has overshadowed the Manchester United man. The Palace fans will be hoping their new boss Alan Pardew will put his arm around Zaha and try and get him back to his best.
There’s no doubting the wingers ability, he’s a box of tricks, and on his day can give any defenders in the world nightmares. Although, sometimes you have to question his attitude for the cause, and if things don’t work out at Crystal Palace of all places, then you have to wonder where they will ever work out for him.