A former Eagles striker thinks a club talisman could have reached his full potential under the guidance of a legendary boss
United reached an agreement to sign Zaha from Palace for an initial £10 million ($13m) fee in January 2013, before allowing him to see out the second half of the season at Selhurst Park on loan.
The Ivory Coast international turned out to be the last signing of Ferguson’s 27-year reign in Manchester, as the Scot walked away from the Red Devils following a 13th Premier League title triumph.
Former Everton manager David Moyes was the man who inherited the managerial reins at Old Trafford, and it quickly became apparent that Zaha did not fit into his plans.
The mercurial winger was sent out on loan to Cardiff mid-way through his first season with United, having been restricted to just two Premier League appearances in total under Moyes.
The Scottish boss was sacked before the end of the 2013-14 campaign, but Zaha’s situation did not improve under his successor Louis van Gaal, who sent him back to Palace on loan.
In February 2015, the 27-year-old rejoined the Eagles on a permanent deal, and has since rebuilt his reputation in familiar surroundings.
Murray, who played at Selhurst Park between 2011 and 2015, thinks Zaha’s career would have turned out differently if Ferguson had extended his stay with the Red Devils.
The Brighton forward also believes a former colleague is now ready for another big move, with Arsenal still considered to be the ideal next destination for a proven Premier League performer.
“Palace fans won’t thank me for saying this, but I do think Zaha needs to go, I think he needs to flourish,” Murray told Talksport.
“Even as far back as when he joined Manchester United… I believe that if Sir Alex [Ferguson] still would have been in charge he would have been one of the best players out there now.
“I was really surprised Arsenal didn’t go for him last year and they decided to go for Pepe.
“It baffled me that they didn’t go for him. I feel Wilf would have been a slightly cheaper option and he’s someone that knows the league very well.
“Staying in London would be good for him as well; he’s a real London boy and I just think he would have been the perfect fit there.”
Clinton Morrison, another former Palace striker, also weighed in Zaha’s future, insisting he would fit in perfectly at either Arsenal or Tottenham if he can finally secure a move away from Selhurst Park.
“Even though he’s only scored four goals, he attracts a lot of players towards him when he’s on the ball,” said Morrison.
“He’ll probably be the first person to say it hasn’t been his best season but, for me, when Wilfried Zaha is on his game he‘s one of the best wingers in the Premier League.
“He’s got that natural skill no one else can do.
“I think the time has come now, and most Crystal Palace fans will probably say this too, it’s time for Wilf to move on.
“I would say a club like Arsenal or Tottenham, I think he would suit them down to the ground.
“Arsenal is his club and I think he was desperate to move to Arsenal last summer, so if Arsenal came along he’d bite their hand off.
“But Arsenal or Tottenham, I think he’d be brilliant for either of those two clubs.”