Wilfried Zaha has been threatening to be a force within English football for some time now. It has never materialised. This season is a big one in the players career. At the age of 24 he is entering the best years of his career. There is no doubting his raw skill and entertaining style of play. Can he turn these into match winning moments and produce great statistics.
Zaha started out at Crystal Palace in 2004. He graduated from their youth system in 2010 and started to make headlines. In the pre season of 2010/11 he forced his way into first team contention. He played for Palace 44 times in his first fill season with the senior team. While he did not produce a great number of goals or assists his skills and direct running were highlights of the season. The next season he started to produce in games, not only dazzle defences. He played 48 times scored nine and created 11 goals. He was certainly creating a reputation for himself.
The following season saw Zaha perform well again. Playing 50 times for his club and scoring eight. The season also saw him notch up 12 assists. He lit up the semi-final of the Championship play-offs scoring twice in the second leg against Brightonscoring twice in the second leg against Brighton to send his team through to the final.
The start of the next season saw Zaha move to Manchester United in what was a huge mistake for the pacey winger. He never fit at United. It was a bad time to move, Alex Ferguson left and David Moyes took over. Stories of a sexual relationship with Moyes daughter made it even more difficult for the new player to fit in. Others said that he had a bad attitude, left frustrated by not being able to work with the great Ferguson. By January Zaha found himself a loan move to Cardiff but couldn’t prevent them from being relegated.
After a right off season Zaha agreed to return to Crystal Palace on loan. Permier League football with the club Zaha had grown up at seemed set to push his career on to the next level. He played the 16 times for Palace before February and struggled to make a statement even though he grabbed the headlines on his first outing against Newcastle. He confirmed his return to Crystal Palace on the final day of the January transfer window this year. Since then he has represented the London club 84 times and scored 12 times.
It feels as though this is the time for him. He is at his long term club and seems to be settling in to Premier League football. At Palace he is vital. Last season he formed a strong relationship with Christian Benteke. Moving forward this will be a vital combination for new manager Frank de Boer. With no attacking transfers in it would appear the Dutchman has faith in what he already has at the club. Meaning that Zaha will get game time and carry expectation on his shoulders.
Moving into his prime means that this is the time Zaha must step up and take responsibility for his club. A modern manager and a good partnership with their main striker will give him the platform he needs to develop his potential and become a star in the Premier League. Expect to see him making defenders asked to mark him look silly this season. He will be a thrilling watch.