Wilfried Zaha agreed a £15 million move to Manchester United yesterday and then vowed to do all he can to ensure he gets to face Crystal Palace next season.
The 20-year-old will sign a long-term contract with the Old Trafford outfit over the weekend after he has come through a United medical.
He will then be loaned straight back to Palace, meaning he will have to maintain his focus on guiding Ian Holloway’s side back to the top flight rather than actually winning it, as would have been the case if United had kept hold of him.
But Zaha insists that will not be a problem. And, in paying a full tribute to the club for the work they have done in his development into an England international, Zaha wants to provide the best going-away present possible.
“I have been at Palace for more than ten years, I will always love the club and I want to help get them back to the Premier League, particularly for the fans who have always been so good to me,” said Zaha. “I am delighted to be joining Manchester United and ending the recent speculation. However, my focus for the next five months will be solely at Crystal Palace.”
Although the deal has not been concluded in the same manner that saw Chris Smalling agree to join United from Fulham three years ago but remain with the Craven Cottage outfit for the remainder of the season, it is clear Palace wanted Zaha to stay at Selhurst Park.
Unlike Smalling, who only played in eight Fulham matches from the beginning of February, Zaha is a key component of Holloway’s side and essential to their hopes of returning to the Premier League after an eight-year absence.
“This is a great deal for the club and the player,” said Palace co-chairman Steve Parish.
“We would like to thank Wilf for all he has done for the club and we all wish him well when he joins Manchester United in the summer, but it was essential to Wilf and ourselves that he stayed at Palace for the remainder of this season to help the club with its main aim of promotion to the Premier League.”