Is it Zaha’s time?

With Manchester United and Arsenal both on the prowl for the young star, is he ready for the big time?

Many young British players have been tempted, or are in a similar position, as young Zaha but would they be better off developing their skills in the lower leagues before moving on.

Some young players are too eager to move at the first opportunity they get and fail to fulfil their potential as they may be grabbing their chance to move to a top team without thinking about their first team chances.

Zaha can take a lot from others of a similar age in the game and those who have moved on before and chose when to, and who to move to.

With the talent he has he will make it to the top as long as he remains patient and keeps playing first team football.

Take a look at one of the other young English wingers linked with a move to the Premier League; Tom Ince.

Ince unlike Zaha started at the top, coming through the youth ranks at Liverpool, however was unable to break into the first team squad and was allowed to leave.

Since leaving he has formed a career in the Football League where Ince’s ability has become apparent to many within the game, including former employers Liverpool, who are now desperate to get him back.

Having spent two and a half seasons in the lower divisions, firstly with Notts County and now with Blackpool, he has honed his skills and showed people what he can do.

Should Ince go back to Liverpool, where he would obviously love to play as his father use to play for them too, he may be given a chance as new manager Brendan Rogers is a believer in youth as seen with the emergence of Raheem Sterling and Suso.

However would a move to Swansea, who are also after his signature, help his career develop further due to the opportunity of first team football.

Ince’s Blackpool team mate Matt Phillips has been in a similar situation and finally looks like he’ll move but both Zaha and Ince could take a lesson from Phillips.

Phillips began his career with Wycombe Wanderers, then stepped up to the Premier League, only for one season, and while with Blackpool has developed even further and has won international caps with Scotland.

Many players though get tempted by the big moves too early, as shown by Jordan Ibe.

Ibe came through the same youth academy with Wycombe Wanderers as Phillips, however after making his debut at the ripe age of 15 and playing and grand total of seven games in the Football League left for Liverpool.

Granted Ibe is still young and at 17 definitely still has a chance of making it big time but did he moved too early.

Ibe may have developed more by playing and learning his trade in the lower leagues before moving; once he had more professional games under his belt.

The same can be said for former Crystal Palace graduate John Bostock.

Bostock burst onto the scene in 2007 aged 15, yet four appearances later he had ‘earned’ a move to Tottenham Hotspur who he is yet to make a league appearance for, with his only game time being in the Europa League whilst also having four loan spells.

Finally Dale Jennings, who after just one season of first team football with Tranmere Rovers left for Bayern Munich where he has only been able to feature for the reserves and has failed to break into any of their first team squads.

Should these players move so young? Most probably not, although these big clubs have all the facilities under the sun are the players comfortable? Are they settled? Obviously not, otherwise their progression would not be halted so much.

Zaha though is in a different position as he has already learned his trade in the Football League and is ready for the move up, and has already represented England at international level, whether that was merited is questionable.

For Zaha it’s all about the next step, if he moves to one of the big clubs in the Premier League from Palace will he just warm the bench?

Look at Adam Johnson after his move from Middlesborough in the Championship to Manchester City.

Johnson may have gone on to win many international caps, but he could have done more, like make the Euro 2012 finals squad.

He’s now moved away to Sunderland, yet his place on the City bench has been filled by Scott Sinclair.
Would this be Zaha’s role would at Arsenal or Manchester United?

Both these sides have done well with youth players, especially Arsenal with Walcott and Chamberlain; who they bought as youngsters, but Aaron Ramsey’s progression has halted in recent months playing most of his football from the bench and has failed to reach the heights he was tipped to make.

Manchester United bought Nick Powell, who was touted as Crewe Alexandra’s greatest graduated yet, but he has mainly featured in the League Cup or odd sub appearance.

Zaha should take note, he may be better suited to following the path of another former Palace graduate Victor Moses.

Moses left Selhurst Park for Wigan Athletic.

Although he had similar options to Zaha he chose a side lower down the table, this may have been as he knew they were suited to a style of football that would help his technical development and were a side who would give him game time.

By getting this game time Moses developed and became a key player for Wigan, so much so that he was seen as one of the key players who saved them from relegation which in turn alerted the scouts from Chelsea.

During the summer he left for Chelsea, and has now proven himself there and is breaking into the first eleven.

It just proves that if the talent is there in a player and the player is given a chance to develop the big clubs will always come sniffing.

Zaha may find his price tag the major problem though.

Palace will not want to lose out, as they felt they did with Bostock, which may lead to clubs lower down the Premier League table being priced out of a move.


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