Manchester United feel they have moved ahead in the race for Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha and are fully confident of signing the forward in the summer, ESPN has learned.
Zaha’s future has been the subject of great speculation lately, with all of United, Arsenal and - to a lesser extent - Tottenham Hotspur chasing the widely admired prospect.
Although Arsenal have long been seen as favourites to eventually secure Zaha’s signature, the player is understood to have had his head turned by United and, particularly, the current position in the table of the two clubs.
The Old Trafford side, meanwhile have further leveraged the situation with some canny negotiating. A key in any transfer is that United are apparently much more willing to let Zaha stay at Selhurst Park until the summer in order to help Palace secure promotion. By contrast, Arsenal have a greater need to reinforce right now.
The situation tallies with the latest comments from Palace chairman Steve Parish on TalkSport, who said Zaha will stay at the club until the summer.
“Right now, we’re concentrating on trying to get out of this league and the best way of doing that is adding to what we’ve got, not losing players,” he said. “I think he will be a Palace player until the summer and then we will look at it. Obviously, we will look at anything that anybody offers us because we would be mad not to.
“If we feel we can move the club forward from doing certain things, then we will. So, never say never. But, right now, we are focused on trying to keep everyone in the squad.”
Should the transfer eventually happen, an Old Trafford source said, it will finally end Nani’s career at the club. Alex Ferguson’s relationship with the Portuguese has reached a low after a series of disagreements in the last year, and United have been open to offers - but only in the event they can bring in sufficient cover.
Had Lucas Moura signed last August, rather than go to Paris Saint-Germain, it would have seen Nani leave. Instead, the Brazilian’s transfer may indirectly lead to Zaha coming to the club this summer.
United, meanwhile, retain a mild interest in Wesley Sneijder, although there has been no movement in the situation. The Inter Milan playmaker’s representatives have contacted a number of clubs - including United - attempting to push a move, explaining the amount of transfer speculation.
ESPN understands that Ferguson would do a deal, but only so long as the price was under £10m and the player's wage demands lessened. As it is, United are prepared to wait and see how the situation develops.