In the wake of Manchester United-bound Wilfried Zaha’s starring role in Crystal Palace’s richly deserved Championship play-off victory, Eagles boss Ian Holloway spoke of his hopefulness of bringing the unshackleable winger back to Selhurst Park on loan next season.
The Ivory Coast-born 20-year-old is due to start next term at United having been loaned back to the Eagles after the champions secured his signature in January, but the subsequent managerial upheaval at Old Trafford might mean that it would be more beneficial for Zaha to stay at the Eagles for a large portion of next season.
Thanks to Palace’s financial situation improving from apocalyptic to impoverished in the last two seasons, Zaha has been able to continue his professional development unfettered by the chequebooks of Premier League suitors, amassing 126 starts for the south east London outfit.
In the past much-hyped Eagles academy scholars like Wayne Routledge and John Bostock have floundered in the reserves after leaving Selhurst Park for Premier League suitors too early in their careers and given United are blessed with a huge amount of options in the attacking midfield/forward area, Zaha may find his development hindered whilst he waits for his chance under David Moyes.
The Eagles hero is blessed with an almost supernatural ability to retain possession under duress, but there are aspects of his game that are still far from perfect. A reticence in shooting on goal and a tendency to shun the early pass are things that could well improve with game time at a higher, faster level.
The four months Jack Wilshere spent on loan at Bolton Wanderers back in 2009/10 are a perfect example of how gaining consistent starting experience at Premier League level can dramatically aid and accelerate the development of a starlet destined for success at a top club.
The chance to keep hold of their star player would be a great fillip for a Palace side looking to defy doom-laden odds of 1/2 about their relegation from the top flight next season.