Zaha, 20, has agreed a United deal but will stay at Selhurst Park before making the switch in the summer.
And Schmeichel told the Daily Star Sunday: "It just shows you what United is all about - we look to the future. This is something Sir Alex has done ever since he came to the club.
"My understanding is if Zaha signs he's going to be loaned straight back, so he won't have any kind of impact on this season.
"But whenever there is a talented, special player out there, I think we are the kind of football club that needs to go and try to grab that talent."