Despite alternative offers on the table from Stoke, Southampton and Fulham, Newcastle have emerged as front-runners to take Manchester United’s forgotten man Wilfried Zaha on loan in January.
The Magpies may be the Ivory Coast-born winger’s preferred destination according to the papers, but lively 11/1 outsiders in bwin’s Premier League top-six finish betting Southampton would represent a far shrewder choice for the ring-rusty trickster.
Hatem Ben Arfa and Loic Remy won’t be barring his way to the first team at St Mary’s.
It’s a surprise that the former Crystal Palace ace foresees an avalanche of starts at St James’ Park with their wingmen arguably the standout performers in black and white stripes this term.
Southampton however have a dearth of wingers on their books, with Adam Lallana used on the right and Steven Davis played out of position amidst Mauricio Pochettino’s attempts to marginalise Gaston Ramirez in 2013/14.
As such Zaha would face far fewer barriers to making a right-wing spot in an upwardly mobile Premier League side his own on the south coast.
Zaha played 55 times alongside Nathaniel Clyne for the Crystal Palace first team.
Rather than have to chisel his way into the Gallic cartel at St James’ Park the peripheral Red Devil could rekindle an affinity with a fellow graduate of the Eagles academy that also turned out Victor Moses.
Although he cannot boast the same kind of bond with Rickie Lambert, the Saints’ target man is a very similar type of player to Glenn Murray, the Palace centre-forward with whom the England international shared such a mutually beneficial relationship last term.
Newcastle are a club perennially in a crisis.
The business of proving yourself in the Premier League is tough enough for a young loanee at the best of times, but Newcastle are persistently dogged by rumblings of disquiet at both boardroom and dressing room levels.
There’s all the more prospect of Zaha’s career trajectory being lost amongst the melee at such a destination and the relatively trouble-free environs at Southampton would surely represent a less toxic atmosphere in which the winger’s gifts can be nurtured.