Wilfried Zaha steals the show for Palace as Manchester United close in on deal

Zaha steals the show for Palace as Fergie closes in on deal

By
Ian Ridley

PUBLISHED:

23:54 GMT, 19 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

23:54 GMT, 19 January 2013

Manchester United
target Wilfried Zaha showed why Sir Alex Ferguson is leading the chase
for his considerable talents with a virtuoso display that nearly ruined
Dougie Freedman's return to Selhurst Park.

The Premier League giants are in
talks with Crystal Palace to try to force through a deal for the
20-yearold England international before the end of the transfer window.

Zaha is ready to travel north to
meet United boss Ferguson and discuss terms once the two clubs have
agreed a fee but so far negotiations have failed to produce a deal.

Dazzling: Wilfried Zaha in action for Crystal Palace

Dazzling: Wilfried Zaha in action for Crystal Palace

He showed precisely why he is being
courted by the Premier League leaders, leaving former Palace manager
Freedman fortunate to escape with a point.

Zaha, born in Ivory Coast but raised
in South London, hit the post with a snap shot and laid on a host of
chances, the best of them sliced wide by Glenn Murray from 10 yards.

The chances came as a result of
Zaha's skilful, pacy wing play that Freedman did so much to develop
before he left Palace to take over at Bolton last October.

'Goodness gracious me, was he
exhilarating' said Ian Holloway, Freedman's successor as Palace
manager, before answering his own question.

Exhilarating: Palace boss Ian Holloway was full of praise for Wilfried Zaha

Exhilarating: Palace boss Ian Holloway was full of praise for Wilfried Zaha

'Yes he was. Some of the best teams
in the world are talking about him and it is difficult when you are not
used to the limelight and you are a nice kid as he is.

'But the boy can do all sorts of
things and is learning what being a good footballer is all about. He was
consistent today, which is not easy when you are a wide man.'

United have restricted their
valuation of Zaha to 7million, believing there are no other credible
bidders Palace can turn to in January.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has
also declared an interest in Zaha, who supported the Gunners as a boy,
but has not yet entered the race, prioritising Theo Walcott's new
contract, signed on Friday, instead.

Palace chairman Steve Parrish has
dropped his original asking price from 20m but is still looking for a
deal that would ultimately be worth 12m to his Championship club.

Big future: Wilfired Zaha looks to be on his way to the Premiership

Big future: Wilfired Zaha looks to be on his way to the Premiership

With time ticking down to the end of January, United are threatening to delay their interest until the summer but with both sides continuing to discuss the matter, a deal could still be struck in the next fortnight.

Palace would like Zaha to stay at Selhurst Park on loan for the season regardless of which club he joins, something the player is comfortable with, and United could use that as a bargaining tool, charging a 1m loan fee that would effectively be taken off the price of the transfer.

Palace survived early Bolton pressure when Chris Eagles looked lively and twice went close with shots, to extend their unbeaten home record to 13 matches but they should have gone on to take all three points to continue their push for promotion.

Instead, Adam Bogdan kept out Alex Marrow's late drive to send Freedman home happy with his day, but with just five win in 17 games in charge he would surely love to have a player of Zaha's calibre in his squad.