But it has been the Eagles’ gain and Pardew claims the winger could be key in the FA Cup Final.
Ivory Coast-born England winger Zaha, 23, was Ferguson’s last major signing before he retired yet his successor David Moyes rarely gave the player a chance despite his £15million fee.
He returned to Palace after a loan spell at Cardiff and has since won successive Player of the Year awards at Selhurst Park, the last one only three days ago. Pardew, who played for Palace when they last reached the final in 1990, believes Zaha has nothing to prove at Wembley.
He said: “Look, he has won two Player of the Seasons here and he can’t do any more. When you leave a football club like United all you can do is your best – and he has.
“In terms of United, I spoke to Sir Alex about him and he thinks he’s destined to be a top player. It was perhaps just a little too early for him there.