Zaha deal possible in January
Published 11/01/2013 | 13:45
Sir Alex Ferguson has dismissed the heightened speculation surrounding his club as part of the silly season, but it is understood Wilfried Zaha could become a Manchester United player before the end of the transfer window.
Ferguson elected not to fuel rumours surrounding Zaha or Chelsea duo Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole, all of which have been aired this week, during his press conference prior to Sunday's Barclays Premier League match against Liverpool.
"There is nothing to report," said the Scot. "It is January for goodness sake and you (the media) are all getting desperate for a story. But there is no story to tell you."
However, it seems the interest in Zaha is genuine, even if no announcement is imminent.
It is understood that should the transfer take place then 20-year-old winger Zaha would remain with current club Crystal Palace for the remainder of the season before formally arriving at United in the summer, in a similar arrangement to the one agreed when United signed Chris Smalling from Fulham in 2010.
That part of the deal is sure to appeal to Palace, who are fighting to earn promotion back to the Premier League for the first time since 2005, and possibly explains why United have emerged above Arsenal and Tottenham as such strong favourites to secure Zaha's services over past few days.
Zaha, who won his first England cap during the November friendly against Sweden, would also fit the general template United have worked to until the arrival of Robin van Persie, namely investing in younger players and helping them through the final stages of their development, as they did so successfully with Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney to name but two.
That certainly does not apply to Chelsea pair Lampard and Cole, both of whom are set to leave Stamford Bridge in the summer when their contracts expire.
It has been suggested Ferguson could sign either or both, with Paul Scholes the obvious example why Lampard's age should be no barrier to a transfer north, but it appears Ferguson is not interested in either player.
Neither does it seem Leighton Baines is destined for Old Trafford in the near future either. Baines has been linked with United since last summer, yet it is impossible to imagine the 27-year-old might be interested in moving from Everton merely as back-up to Patrice Evra.