The arrival, departure, then arrival again of Wilfried Zaha at Old Trafford seems imminent.
According to reports, a deal has almost been struck between Manchester United and Crystal Palace for the England sensation to link up with Sir Alex Ferguson's side. The common consensus is that Zaha will be loaned back to Palace for the remainder of the season to aid Palace's promotion push, in a deal worth up to £12m with performance related add-ons.
Zaha has risen to prominence in the Eagles' climb to the top of the Championship table, with displays of dazzling skill and devastating ability leading to interest from United amongst others. United are keen to tie the deal down in January to secure Zaha before the summer when interest would heighten, but is he the right man for the job?
Whilst Zaha struts his stuff in the capital, another young English winger is making waves on the coast just down the road from United. Thomas Ince, son of former United player Paul, has been increasing his own profile with a series of impressive performances for Blackpool, leading to interest from Liverpool as they prepare an offer to take back the player they sold a little over 18 months ago for next to nothing.
A look at the two players over this season shows Zaha returning 5 goals and 4 assists in 27 games compared to Ince’s 13 goals and 10 assists in 26 appearances, leading to calls from Ian Holloway for Ince to be called up to the senior England side. So the question is, why Zaha?
It has to be noted that they have very different styles of play. Ince, who is visibly full of determination and desire, never allowing his full-back to rest, constantly keeping the opposition on the back foot and always looking to impact the game making incisive runs in off the flanks to get involved in the game, is an opposite to Zaha who has a tendency to operate more in bursts, sometimes drifting out of the game for periods of time but always capable of bursting back into life at any moment - and to devastating effect.
In truth, either would be an excellent acquisition for United but the situation surrounding Zaha and Palace’s likely promotion may have forced David Gill’s hand to act now in order to avoid missing out on the young starlet. There is also an argument that what Ince has over Zaha can be coached - the constant work rate and co-operation for the team - whereas the raw ability of Zaha can never be replicated by any number of hours on the training ground.
The purchase of one does not rule out a move for the other, Zaha’s arrival would leave Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young, Nani and Zaha as United’s wide options, and although doubts remaining regarding Nani's long-term future, it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that both players could be lining up together at Old Trafford in the near future.
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