Football News

Zaha: Man Utd tried to break me – I’m ready for the Champions League

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 14:05, 20 April 2019

Wilfried Zaha wants to experience Champions League football before calling time on his playing career despite his torrid time at Manchester United.

The 26-year-old Crystal Palace forward has just over four years left on his contract but is continually linked with a move away from Selhurst Park.

Palace’s most important player: Five things to know…

  1. Zaha is a graduate of Crystal Palace’s esteemed youth academy.
  2. He’d make over 140 appearances for The Eagles before joining Manchester United in 2013, becoming Sir Alex Ferguson’s last signing at the club.
  3. Zaha would find it tough at Old Trafford having ultimately made four appearances before returning to south London.
  4. Since coming back in 2014 he’s bagged 33 goals across 176 matches in all competitions.
  5. So far this season no Palace player has scored more goals from open play than Zaha (8).

Since returning from a disappointing spell at Manchester United, where he became Sir Alex Ferguson’s last signing at the Old Trafford club in 2013, the Ivorian winger has transformed into Palace’s most important player.

So much so, the Eagles star man has expressed ambitions to take his game to the highest level on both the domestic and international stage.

“I’m too ambitious,” he told the Daily Mail. “And not ambitious just to play for a top club, but to win things at club level and with the Ivory Coast.

“For me to be better, to achieve what I know I am capable of, I have to aim to play at the very highest level, to win trophies.

“I’m blessed to have come this far in my playing career. But I feel like there is so much more I have to offer.

“I have to experience the Champions League. I just need the opportunity, that’s it. And I’ll do the rest.”

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Zaha has previously spoken of how his time at Manchester United was far from ideal, with the 26-year-old stressing that he felt like the club were trying to “break me in every way possible” and “destroy his career for no reason”.

The tricky winger never really got an opportunity at the highest level with United but he’s shown his capability under Roy Hodgson.

He finished behind Luka Milivojević as the club’s top scorer last season (10 goals to nine) and currently trails the Serbian midfielder (12 goals to 8) although the bulk of Milivojević’s goals have come from the penalty spot.

Zaha’s credentials aren’t just goal related. He averages 3.2 dribbles per match, a stat that is only beaten by Chelsea superstar Eden Hazard (3.6). The Palace man is also the most fouled footballer in the Premier League this campaign, averaging 3.1 fouls per match.

What’s left for Palace and Zaha this season?

After their opening 34 league matches Palace currently find themselves sitting 13th and eight points above the relegation zone. Roy Hodgson’s men need another five points from their last four games to guarantee another season of playing in English football’s top division.

Their remaining fixtures see them visit Arsenal (April 21) and Cardiff City (May 4) as well as hosting Everton (April 27) and Bournemouth (May 12) on the final day.