Arsenal must take gamble on Wilfried Zaha

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To say it's been a disastrous season for Wilfried Zaha would be a gross understatement. Twelve months ago he was guiding Crystal Palace to the Premier League and on the verge of linking up with his new Manchester United team-mates for the first time. He was also a real contender to force his way into England's 2014 World Cup squad.

What a difference a year makes. Nobody expected Roy Hodgson to name Zaha on England's standby list, let alone the 23-man squad. The 21-year-old winger, who made his international debut in 2012, had played a grand total of two Premier League matches for Manchester United before being loaned to Cardiff City, where he experienced the first relegation of his career earlier this month.

United shelled out £15m for Zaha and the early signs were promising. On the club's pre-season tour, he was the standout player - showcasing his brilliant skills and tremendous pace. But David Moyes went right off him, it seemed, during the Community Shield against Wigan Athletic at Wembley.

Moyes likes his wingers to be defensively sound and capable of following specific instructions. Zaha, a little on the raw side and still learning his trade, was subsequently frozen out of the squad for failing to carry out his defensive duties in that one match - his competitive debut for the Premier League giants. Zaha's confidence had hit rock bottom, while shining bright during his loan spell at the Cardiff City Stadium always promised to be a big ask.

Despite the exit of Moyes, reports suggest Manchester United are still keen to offload Zaha in the forthcoming transfer window - and are prepared to sell the winger for the cut-price fee of £7m.

Newcastle United are reportedly keen - although rumours that Moyes could replace Alan Pardew at St James' Park will be enough to put Zaha off a move to the north east - but one club who should be competing for his signature are Arsenal.

Arsene Wenger was a big fan of the exciting, young winger and almost certainly would have signed him had Theo Walcott rejected the chance to put pen-to-paper on a lucrative contract extension at the Emirates Stadium.

Zaha would have been a much better fit at Arsenal, the club he grew up supporting, working under the astute Wenger, who has a proven track record of developing talented youngsters into superstars. But that's not Zaha's fault: he signed for Manchester United thinking he was about to work under the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson, rather than his ill-fated successor.

Wenger could help Zaha fulfil his potential. It might take some time - and require both parties to put in some hard work - but Arsenal would reap the rewards further down the line.

There's nothing sadder in football than wasted talent - but, in this instance, Arsenal can ensure Zaha doesn't go down that route by bedding him into their new-look team for the 2014/15 campaign.

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Manchester United
Premier League
Wilfried Zaha

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