Manchester United have assumed pole position in the battle to secure Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha and are confident of landing the 20-year-old next summer, according to ESPN. Reports in recent days have suggested that United were vying for Zaha’s signature with Premier League rivals Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham.

It is believed that United have the advantage due to their greater willingness to allow Zaha to remain at Palace until the end of the season. The Championship club’s chairman Steve Parish told TalkSport earlier this week that he expects Zaha to stay and assist Palace’s attempts to get into the Premier League.

"Right now we’re concentrating on trying to get out of this league and the best way of doing that is adding to what we’ve got, not losing players," he said.

"I think he will be a Palace player until the summer. He has said himself that he really wants to get promoted with the club.”

The Guardian reported this week that if a deal is done, Palace would also seek to take two or three players on loan from the buying club.

According to ESPN, a United source has told the network that if Zaha arrives it will signal the end of Nani’s time at Old Trafford. There has been much speculation about the Portuguese winger’s future, with a move to Zenit St Petersburg reportedly breaking down in the summer.

Nani has played sparingly this season, although he is now back in training following a two-month injury layoff. United boss Sir Alex Ferguson recently dismissed suggestions that the 26-year-old could be on his way out and said that the player still has an important role to play at the club.

Manchester United would also appear to be after further reinforcements to their wide positions with the Sun again claiming that the Premier League leaders are among the clubs monitoring Theo Walcott’s situation at Arsenal.

The 23-year-old is out of contract in the summer and, although there have been more encouraging noises out of the Emirates in recent days, the Sun reports that he is no nearer signing an extension.

Walcott is said to be after a five-year deal worth £95,000 a week. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, though, has said that the delay is not about the money, while Walcott is said that key to his decision will be the opportunity to play in his favored central striking role.

As with Robin van Perise, if Walcott believes that he has a better chance of competing for honors elsewhere then he may decide to move on.

In other news, reported Manchester United target Benedikt Howedes has postponed discussions on a signing a new contract with Schalke, according to TalkSport.

The central defender’s current deal is set to expire in 18 months’ time meaning that Schalke may decide to cash in on the Germany international if he fails to sign an extension in the summer.

The 24-year-old came through the youth ranks at Schalke and is also believed to be interesting Arsenal.