Arsene Wenger says Arsenal have no interest and never were interested in signing Wilfried Zaha.
The Crystal Palace winger has emerged as one of the hottest prospects in English football with a host of Premier League sides linked with a move.
Arsenal have always been among those rumoured to be interested with Wenger saying recently when asked if the Gunners would make a move: "we are looking at him".
Yet the Arsenal manager today distanced his club from the England Under-21 international.
"We were never in for Zaha," Wenger told a press conference this morning.
That leaves Manchester United as Zaha's most likely destination, with the current league leaders having already made a bid of £5m plus £5m add-ons. It is understood to be the only bid from any club currently on the table.
Crystal Palace are in a quandary over whether to agree to the deal having hoped to secure closer to £12m for the 20-year-old.
Yet their position is weakened by the lack of any other offers, and the fact Sir Alex Ferguson remained in England while the United squad travel to Qatar for a warm weather training camp has been seen as a signal of his intent to conclude a deal by making himself available if needed.
Asked last night if a price had been agreed, Palace chairman Steve Parish said: "I'm not going to answer." But his comments point to a loan-back deal, as Parish did make an unequivocal pledge to his club's fans that Zaha would be playing for Palace through until the end of the season. "Right now, he's a Crystal Palace player and he'll be a Crystal Palace player in the summer. That's the only thing I can tell you," Parish said. "He'll definitely be playing for us until the end of May whatever happens. I've said it countless times – there's no way the player is going to leave the club in January. That's where we are and that's where we've always been with it."
It is unclear whether Ferguson met Zaha in London on Sunday night, after United's game at Tottenham. Ferguson is known to be attending a Manchester United Foundation round-table dinner while his players are away.
Wenger said today he was unsure where Zaha's future lay.
"I don't know if he will go to Man United. If he goes to Man United, good luck to him."
While Arsenal may not be interest in Zaha, Wenger confirmed he intends to boost his squad with two new signings before the transfer window shuts, and professed his admiration for West Ham midfielder Mohamed Diame.
The Frenchman refused, however, to reveal whether he was interested in signing France midfielder Yoann Gourcuff.
"I don't give you any names. I don't come out on [rumours Lyon have offered him to Arsenal] because it would put Lyon in a bad position," Wenger said.
"You have to respect the player as well has a contract somewhere, is playing and, as long as the transfer is not done, for anybody it is best not to talk about it because it doesn't work. He has to continue to play there where he is."
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