Much was expected of former Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha after his performances helped drag Crystal Palace into the Premiership last season.
Such displays helped earn the player not just a spot on the Championship team of the year, but also a £15 million move to champions Manchester United. In fact, Zaha goes down as one of Sir Alex Ferguson's final signings for the Red Devils.
An England cap also came during the 2012-13 season, and a series of eye-catching performances during United's preseason seemed to imply Zaha was going to play a big part for them this year.
However, things haven't quite worked out for the youngster. After starting in the Community Shield in August, Zaha has had to wait nearly three months for his next appearance, in last Tuesday's League Cup match against Norwich City. All this despite United having their worst Premier League start in years.
Another young attacker, Adnan Januzaj, has been the player given greater access to to the first team by new manager David Moyes, and now, heading into November, rumours are abound as to where Zaha should head out on loan come the January transfer window. With the intention of playing enough to get back in to the England setup, below are some of his options:
Crystal Palace - The most obvious choice for some would be for Zaha to head back to the team he had so much success with before he earned his big money move. The benefits for the winger would be that he knows the club and players and would take little time to settle in. Palace, rooted to the foot of the table with just three points, would surely dearly love to have him back at the club, whoever takes over the vacant manager's job. But a season of inevitable relegation dogfights may not be so attractive to a player whose confidence may have taken a knock following his struggles at Old Trafford.
Cardiff City - Malky Mackay is reported to be a huge fan of the young winger, and after the club signed a batch of promising young players in the summer transfer window, Zaha might be another to add to the promising squad the Scot is putting together down in South Wales. As a team that could realistically aim somewhere around mid table, they might suit the player a little more than his former club.
Swansea City - Staying in the same region, Cardiff's rivals Swansea City could be interested in taking Zaha on a six month loan deal. Not only would it provide the perfect environment for a skilful individual to develop, but it would also give the option of European football with a team aiming for the top eight of the league. And, of course, it would also help the Swans get one over their neighbours.
Newcastle United - If Zaha wants to acclimatise to top level football, in front of a huge demanding set of supporters each week, he could look no further than heading to St James' Park. He would have to beat out a swarm of French players clambering to get in to the team, but Newcastle United, just three points below Man Utd, would perhaps represent the environment most similar to Old Trafford that is available to him, should he look to move.
Where do you think Zaha should head out on loan? Or do you think David Moyes should be including him in the Manchester United first team more often?
image: © Tom Brogan