Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has given Wilfried Zaha the highest praise possible by comparing him to Cristiano Ronaldo and believes he has what it takes to become as good as him if he can find the dedication to match his talent.
The 20-year-old had an immediate impact on his loan spell at Cardiff City with an appearance from the bench against Norwich City that inspired a turnaround victory, one of which Zaha directly created with a lovely through ball and Solskjaer was effusive in his praise for Zaha after the game, labelling him as one of the most naturally gifted players he has seen.
“He is one of the best I have seen with the ball,” he told The Mirror.
“He has quick feet and is brave like Cristiano and wants to go forward.
“But he has got to make a decision about how good does he want to be and how much does he love this game. He can grow up to become a proper player like Ronaldo if he wants.
“I have never seen anyone work as hard as Ronaldo. Before training, after training, he was an exceptionally dedicated man and proved to everyone what dedication gets you.
“I am not afraid of using Sir Alex Ferguson or Cristiano as an example when I have to because to get the best out of your talent you need to be dedicated.
“It’s a desire and attitude from within. It’s what you’ve got in your heart and Cristiano’s always had it.”
This isn’t the first time that Solskjaer has used a big name comparison to boost the confidence of one of his players as he did the same thing with Mats Moller Daehli when he compared him to Paul Scholes. Hopefully it is the sort of thing Zaha needs to hear to really improve and apply himself.
He added: “Everyone needs to be loved. It’s like with your kids. You love them but you also have to tell them straight. It’s the same with players.
“He came on and made an impact, he lifted everyone and just wants to play football.
“That’s something he will get loads of here. I’m really looking forward to working with him.”
Maybe all Zaha needed was a little bit more attention and focus, something that he could not be afforded in his first season as a United player.
Solskjaer’s excellent man management skills are fantastic and he wouldn’t add the pressure of comparing Zaha to Ronaldo if he didn’t think he was good enough to fulfill that expectation.
Judging from his first appearance, Zaha should really enjoy his time on loan at Cardiff and will now be able to get regular first team football under his belt.