Wilfried Zaha: What Manchester United Transfer Target Would Bring to Red Devils

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 23, 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

The amount of hype Wilfried Zaha has generated since the January transfer window opened is amazing for a player who never played in one of Europe's top leagues. The 20-year-old striker has been linked to Manchester United frequently in recent weeks.

Ben Smith of the BBC provided the latest update on negotiations between the Red Devils and Crystal Palace. He states talks will continue in the coming days as United try to complete a £12 million deal before loaning him back to the Eagles until season's end.

If an agreement is reached, United would be adding an intriguing talent with tremendous potential. He's still a little rough around the edges, which is common for players of his age, but Sir Alex Ferguson is thinking about the future.

The proposed immediate loan of Zaha back to Crystal Palace shows the Red Devils don't think he's ready to make an impact right now. It would give him the opportunity to gain more experience in the Championship before heading to Old Trafford.

While fans are always anxious to see any new acquisitions in a United uniform, it's the right move. The club has a lot of important matches on the horizon as it chases Premier League and Champions League titles, and Zaha would probably get lost in the shuffle.

In Zaha, the Red Devils would be getting a player who's scored five goals and tallied four assists in 27 appearances for Crystal Palace this season. He's capable of playing the lead striker role or working off the wing, using his pace to stretch back lines.

Right now, his biggest assets are speed and finishing ability. He's able to create space for himself on the outside and isn't afraid to unleash some lasers with his right foot.

That combination allows him to create offensive opportunities for himself, which is a trait managers are always looking for in their attacking options. They want somebody who can lift the offense on their shoulders when it's struggling, and Zaha definitely has that type of upside.

In terms of areas where he will need to improve, the most obvious one is his distribution ability. When he cuts in off the wing, he must learn to quickly identify targets in the box and connect with pinpoint passes to set up scoring chances.

Robin van Persie loves wreaking havoc in the box and is going to remain United's main target moving forward. If Zaha can get on the same page with him, they will be able to create some magic once the England international gets his feet wet in the EPL.

Along with passing, the other thing he can work on is tracking back to help on defense. Although he won't be expected to have a major role in that area given his attacking talents, it's a skill that would go a long way in making him a more complete player.

Finalizing a transfer would be a calculated risk for United. After all, £12 million is a lot to pay for a player with Zaha's limited experience and track record. But the star potential makes him worth taking the chance for the Premier League leaders.

Now they just have to figure out a way to close the deal before the window closes. That gives Ferguson and Co. a little more than a week to sort out the details.