All about Wilfried Zaha

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(Getty)

TKTG compiles the latest news and analysis about Wilfried Zaha and his move to Manchester United.

From Crystal Palace’s website “Crystal Palace can today (Friday 25th January) confirm that we have agreed a fee for Wilfried Zaha with Manchester United. Wilfried has agreed personal terms and pending formalities we expect the transfer to be concluded early next week. Wilfried has been immediately loaned back to Crystal Palace for the remainder of the 2012/13 season. 

  
Crystal Palace co-chairman Steve Parish said today: “I feel this is a great deal for the club and the player. We would like to thank Wilf for all he has done for the club and we all wish him well when he joins Manchester United in the summer. It was essential to Wilf and ourselves that he stayed at Palace for the remainder of this season to help the club with its main aim of promotion to the Premier League.” 
  
Wilfried Zaha said: “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 back to the Premier League, particularly for the fans who have always been so good to me.”

From Man U’s official website:

There will be no further comment by any party until Wilfried joins United in July 2013, although Sir Alex did speak briefly about the deal at his Friday morning press-conference.

“As we like to do, we sign young players with potential,” the manager said.

“We can also develop players well here. That’s proved to be the case many times.

“Hopefully the boy will enjoy it coming here when he eventually does join us in the summer.”

Zaha is made for Manchester United… and now he can go on to be one of the very best

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(Getty)

When Wilfried Zaha runs out at Old Trafford in the famous red shirt, the Stretford End will be watching a player made for Manchester United.

Zaha has the silky skills, the tricks and pure ability to put United fans on the edge of their seats. He is that good.

He tantalises, teases and twists his way past defenders in a way that has people going back for more.

Few players are fouled as often as the England winger, but he’s become used to being clobbered by defenders.

There are endless youtube clips of the boy who grew up perfecting the skills that made Ronaldinho become the world player of the year in 2004 and 2005.

With dedication and application, Zaha can go on to become one of the very best. He knows that.

It is a remarkable deal for Palace, selling a player with 124 first team appearances since he graduated from Gary Issott’s south London academy.

Last summer newly-promoted Reading wanted to pay £3m for a player they considered a huge risk, but Palace knew they had a special player.

This is a day Palace can be proud of after developing a young kid, who was born in the Ivory Coast, to play for one of the world’s biggest football clubs.

Palace cannot compete with a club boasting 13 Premier League titles and three European Cups.
The owners were reluctant to sell Zaha, but this is a brilliant piece of business for a club who were in administration in 2010.

Read how Crystal Palace made the most of Zaha.

He’s just too good for you! How man-of-the-moment Wilfried Zaha took English football by storm

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(Getty)

From the Mirror: “He looks about twelve,” comments one supporter in the Holmesdale stand as a gangly, youthful striker takes to the field for Crystal Palace.

His shorts are pulled high above the waist, his shirt billows with excess polycotton yet his boots are electric blue. The boots, it will later emerge, are new. Bought for him as a present by his manager when it was decided that his shabby old black ones simply weren’t fit for him to be making his professional debut in.

He touched the ball perhaps six times, but this brief 10-minute cameo was one of exciting promise – although whether this youngster’s substitute appearance had come about because of his unique talent, or because of the club’s perilous financial state was still unclear. After all, every player on the Eagles’ substitute bench that day was an academy product, the oldest just 20 years-old.

Zaha on the other hand, is a spindly, darting little winger. Fast and incisive, but forced to bend with and skip over challenges that Moses would simply bounce off or ride. Where Zaha’s strength lies is in his ability to beat a man one-on-one – and that’s the principal reason for his call-up to the England squad.

There have been the inevitable days when he tried too much, beating a man once, twice and three times only to be dispossessed. There were times when players could only get to grips with him by fouling him out of the game, and this still happens, but whereas he would previously self combust, retaliating and earning himself a red card, he now gets on with it secure in the knowledge that his talent will eventually be too much for those attempting to do him harm.

His final product has improved immeasurably, something no doubt intertwined with a refinement in his shooting technique that has also begun to bring him more goals. The marked and significant improvement in his team’s fortunes this season have been down to the improved balance of having a natural winger on the left to balance with Zaha – that winger, Yannick Bolasie, was described by Wilf as the best partner of his career – but his own development has been more steady, more subtle.

Crucially for a modern winger he has also worked on his defensive responsibilities a lot, something that proved vital in Crystal Palace avoiding relegation last season and that proved an unexpected positive from Dougie Freedman’s defensive style of football.

Zaha: Unless I’m looking at Ronaldo or Messi, I don’t think anyone’s better than me

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(Getty)

But deep down Zaha already felt he did belong. Deep down he believed he had the ability to be in the company of Roy Hodgson’s senior international players. ‘Unless I’m looking at Ronaldo or Messi, I’d never look at someone else and think he’s better than me,’ he said in his first major newspaper interview.

 …

This is the kid who spent 10 years perfecting Ronaldinho’s tricks with a tennis ball and he is now desperate to use them against the best possible opposition. Against Sweden on Wednesday night as well as the Premier League’s finest.

‘I think about the Premier League all the time, wondering when I’m going to come up against better defenders,’ he said. ‘I don’t think I’ve come up against a defender when I’ve thought “What can I do to get past this guy?” If it was Ashley Cole I would be working it all out before the game, knowing he would stick tight to me. I’d drift inside and then run at him. 

‘Maybe he’ll be able to deal with it, but that’s when I can test him, isn’t it? That’s my time.

‘If someone’s on my back I’ll stand on the ball and put it in a position where the guy behind me can’t see it, then I can roll him whichever way I want. 

‘Even when I played against Fabio in the Carling Cup last season at Old Trafford, I was so nervous before the game, but if I wasn’t good enough I wouldn’t have been playing.’

Zaha revealed he worked it all out in the summer, using a core stability and conditioning programme and combining it with long spells refining his mesmerising skills with a tennis ball playing with friends.

His development has been breathtaking as he operates at a different level to the rest of the Championship. Nobody can get the ball off him now.

‘Me, I’ve played over 100 games in the Championship. (Alex) Oxlade-Chamberlain went from League One to Arsenal and didn’t play anywhere near that.

‘I spoke with Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling and they both said the Premier League is the place to be. I’m not saying I’m leaving Palace but that’s where I want to play.’ 

Zaha is learning fast, coming to terms with the attention that comes with being marked out as the best Championship player.

On Monday Nike couriered customised boots to the team hotel with the St George’s cross stitched into the side panels as Zaha prepares for his bow as an England player. His family, including five brothers and three sisters, were booking tickets to travel to Stockholm to watch his full international debut.

At first he was fazed by the call from Hodgson on Sunday night, confused after Didier Drogba tried to convince him to play for the Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations in January.

Zaha was born in Abidjan, leaving the Ivory Coast at the age of four when his mother and father, along with his eight siblings, moved to England. He has never been back.

But the pull of playing for the Ivory Coast in tournament football early next year is serious. England’s clash against Sweden is a FIFA-recognised fixture but it is classed as ‘non-competitive’ and Zaha could still switch to the Ivory Coast even if he plays on Wednesday night. 

He said: ‘Didier called me and I was shocked, to be honest. He’s a humble guy and he was just talking to me about the Ivory Coast.

‘I was born in the Ivory Coast but all I know is England. It’s 50-50 at the moment but it’s a choice I will have to make at some stage.

‘I’ve been with the Under 21s and, now that I am with England, I will have to make a decision.’

He has come a long way from the skinny south London kid who used to cry into his pillow at night when he was overlooked for the Palace youth team.

Read why Zaha is too good for you

Wenger: We were never in for Zaha
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(Getty)

“If Zaha goes to Man Utd, good luck to him,” Wenger told a press conference on Tuesday. “We were never in for him. Never.”

Despite Wenger’s words, ESPN understands that Arsenal did place a bid for Zaha last week but Palace’s demands and the player’s seeming desire to continue the next phase of his career at Old Trafford has ended their interest.

(Ed’s note: which means he was…. as were apparently Liverpool and Spurs)

From the Independent : Nani to leave once Zaha arrives?

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(Getty)

” Zaha will immediately be loaned back to Crystal Palace so he can complete the season at Selhurst Park and aid their push for promotion.

Zaha’s arrival is likely to spell the end of Nani’s time as a Manchester United player.

Sir Alex Ferguson, who has been instrumental in swinging the Zaha deal in United’s favour, already has a wealth of wide options at his disposal.

Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia tend to fill the positions on the left and right of United’s midfield, while the arrival of Shinji Kagawa in the summer has caused a selection headache as Ferguson tries to find a position for the Japanese international. Ryan Giggs’ performances this term also suggest he will renew his contract for another year.

Nani has found regular first team football hard to come by and the arrival of Zaha will only make that tougher.”

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