Former Arsenal head coach, Unai Emery has opened up on the club’s pursuit of Crystal Palace winger, Wilfried Zaha, revealing that the club overruled his attempts to sign the Ivory Coast star to sign Nicolas Pepe from Lillee instead.
The Gunners pursued Zaha for the whole of 2019, but ultimately failed in their pursuit as they were unable to meet the £100million valuation of Palace for the player with the club holding out for nothing less than the asking price.
This lead to Arsenal turning their attention to Pepe who they eventually signed for a club record £72m, though Emery for his part wanted to get Zaha in his squad.
Unai Emery continues to make himself look worse and worse with these post-sacking interviews, but this tidbit is intriguing…
He wanted Zaha at Arsenal, NOT Pepe! https://t.co/UTDjw3pQOC
— The Top Flight (@TheTopFlightFS) May 15, 2020
“We signed [Nicolas] Pépé. He’s a good player but we didn’t know his character and he needs time, patience. I favoured someone who knew the league and wouldn’t need to adapt. [Wilfried] Zaha won games on his own: Tottenham, Manchester City, us. Incredible performances. I told them: ‘This is the player I know and want,” he said as per Evening Standard.
“I met Zaha and he wanted to come. The club decided Pépé was one for the future. I said: ‘Yes, but we need to win now and this lad wins games.’ He beat us on his own.
It’s also true he was expensive and Palace didn’t want to sell. There were a series of decisions that had repercussions.”
While Pepe’s arrival was hailed by many, the 24-year-old is yet to excel on a consistent basis, scoring six goals in 32 appearances in all competitions so far.