Sir Alex Ferguson has told Alan Pardew that he still believes Manchester United flop Wilfried Zaha has the potential to become one of the best in the Premier League.
Pardew, who is preparing his troops to face United in Saturday’s FA Cup final, says that former United boss Ferguson recently told him that Zaha was a quality player.
Zaha, 23, who was linked with a move to China in March, was signed by United from Crystal Palace during Ferguson’s last season at Old Trafford for a reported fee which could have reached £15million.
However, Zaha, capped twice by England, made just four appearances for the Red Devils and did not start a game in the Premier League before he eventually returned to Selhurst Park in the summer of 2014 on a season-long loan. Palace made the signing a permanent one in February 2015 by paying £6million for the forward, who made his United debut in the Community Shield win over Wigan in 2013. United did though insert a buy-back clause in the deal.
“He’s (Zaha) very much aware that’s he’s playing against a club that rejected him,” said Pardew.
“I’ve said to him before, ‘What are you going to do about it? So, this cup final could be his stage and, if anyone will want to prove himself on the day, it will be Wilf.
“When you leave a football club like that, all you can do is your best – and he has.
“He’s just won Player of the Year here again and you can’t do any more than that. I spoke to Alex Ferguson about him recently and he still thinks he’s destined to be a top player.
“Alex still talks about the qualities Wilf has – the pace, the power, the constant energy to run from start to finish. There are not many players who can carry the ball like he does for maybe 120 minutes.”
Zaha, who has not played since last month’s FA Cup semi-final win over Watford, is an injury doubt ahead of the Wembley showpiece. Zaha has a muscular strain “just above his hamstring”, but Pardew is hoping his talisman will be fit.