Manchester United have attempted to blow Arsenal out of the water by tabling an offer worth up to £17 million for Wilfried Zaha, Goal.com can reveal.
United have made multiple bids for the Crystal Palace attacker since making the first formal move for the forward last week, when they made a £6m opening offer.
Sources have told Goal.com that the Premier League giants have made “four or five bids” for Zaha, with the final package believed to be £15m rising to £17m with add-ons.
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United are confident this should be enough to land the newly-capped England international, who has also been the subject of strong interest from Arsenal.
Crystal Palace co-chairman Steve Parish has been negotiating with the two clubs and is aware that Zaha met United manager Sir Alex Ferguson in London on Sunday.
The Championship club have used Arsenal’s interest to drive the price way beyond the £10m mark and the final fee is likely to go far beyond what the Gunners paid to beat United to the signings of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in 2011 and Theo Walcott in 2006.
United are increasingly confident that Zaha will be confirmed as a United player by the end of the week.
The title challengers had been undecided about the framework of the deal amid concerns that the 20-year-old would be a ‘marked man’ if he remained in the Championship until the end of the season.
But it is understood that United’s plan is for Zaha to be signed this month, loaned back to Palace until the end of the season and for a guaranteed date of purchase to be agreed for the summer.
Speaking last Wednesday, chief executive David Gill said that United would be willing to let the newly-capped England international re-join the promotion chasers on loan.
“He is one of the players we are looking at,” said Gill. “Even if we did something with Wilfried, that would be for the summer.”
United are confident they are in the driving seat to capture Zaha even though Arsene Wenger followed Gill by going public with Arsenal’s interest at his weekly press briefing on Thursday morning.
“We are looking at him (Zaha), but at the moment we have not made any bid for him,” Wenger said.
Goal.com revealed on Monday of last week that Arsenal had re-entered the race for the 20-year-old and were locked in a 50-50 battle for his signature with United ahead of both clubs holding advanced talks with Palace co-chairman Parish last week.
Parish and Palace manager Ian Holloway have both consistently said that Zaha will not be sold before the end of the season but it is understood that if he were to join the Gunners, the newly-capped England international would leave Selhurst Park this month.
Palace would prefer for Zaha to spearhead Palace’s promotion challenge and remain at the club until next summer but Wenger is only interested in a deal in which the youngster is integrated into the Arsenal set-up immediately.
The attacker, who can play anywhere across the front three, has been a driving force in Palace’s surge to fourth in the Championship, scoring five goals in 27 league appearances this season. He made his England debut as a substitute in the 4-2 November friendly defeat to Sweden.