Manchester United expect to wrap up a £12 million deal for Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha by the end of the week, according to the Guardian. The 20-year-old will, however, remain at the Championship club until the end of season on loan.
Although the United squad flew off to Qatar on Sunday for warm-weather training, manager Sir Alex Ferguson has remained in England to help wrap up the long-discussed transfer for one of the English game’s top prospects.
Arsenal had also been heavily linked to Zaha, who made his debut for England as a substitute against Sweden in November, but it is believed United’s willingness to allow Zaha to stay and help Palace’s promotion push aided their cause.
Curiously, or perhaps not, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger now claims that the Gunners never made a move for Zaha.
There is believed to have been lengthy discussions between Palace and United about the exact fee, with it still unclear what proportion of it will be performance-based. The Guardian reports that Palace could also request to have two United players on loan, with 18-year-old midfielder Nick Powell one of those mooted.
The other big story coming out of Old Trafford concerns the future of goalkeeper David de Gea. The 22-year-old has again faced criticism after his failure to adequately deal with a cross helped precipitate Tottenham’s injury-time equalizer in the 1-1 result at White Hart Lane on Sunday.
The Daily Telegraph reports that Ferguson is becoming increasingly frustrated about De Gea’s inability to adapt to the physical nature of the English game since he arrived from Atletico Madrid for around £18 million in the summer of 2011. Crucially, it is also reported that senior players at Manchester United have lost faith in the Spain Under-21 international.
With Anders Lindegaard, who has previously been alternated with De Gea, also failing to cover himself in glory this season, it leaves Ferguson reportedly on the lookout for a new goalkeeper.
The latest name to enter that equation is Barcelona’s Victor Valdes. The 31-year-old announced last week that he would not be extending his contract at the Camp Nou, which has less than 18 months left to run. According to the Telegraph, Valdes is now likely to be under consideration, with the possibility that he could leave the Camp Nou in the summer.
Intriguingly various reports in Spain have also listed De Gea as a potential replacement for Valdes.
It is a similar situation at Real Madrid, where De Gea is said to be a target if Iker Casillas departs the Bernabeu. Casillas is also named as a stopper on United’s radar. A legend at Madrid, the 31-year-old, has been dropped by boss Jose Mourinho on more than one occasion in recent weeks.
While if that situation were to continue, it could lead to a parting of ways, Casillas’s position at the club looks secure due to Mourinho’s seemingly inevitable departure this summer.
According to the Daily Express, United are also taking a look at Liverpool’s Pepe Reina to fill De Gea’s gloves.
Yet, given the obvious problems of a player moving between the two great rivals and the fact that Reina has also been far from error-free himself in the past 18 months, a deal looks unlikely.