Wilfried Zaha has confirmed that the club chose Ivory Coast teammate Nicolas Pepe over him during the 2019 summer transfer window.
The Gunners shattered their transfer record to complete a move for the former Lille winger in a deal that reached £72m.
In an interview this week, the Crystal Palace attacker confirmed that he held talks with ex-head coach Unai Emery over a move to the Emirates Stadium.
Zaha said: “I had a conversation with the manager [Unai Emery] actually. Emery was just like we don’t really need to go through much. He was like ‘yeah we’d love to have you’ and I was just like ‘yeah I’d love to come.”
“Obviously, it was up to the club who they chose. And they chose Pepe over me.” (via The Greatest Game)
Was signing Nicolas Pepe instead of Wilfried Zaha a mistake from Arsenal?
Pepe really hasn’t worked out, has he? The Ivorian has proven to be a bit of flop if we’re all honest with ourselves give how little impact he has had in his time at the club. His poor form over the last 18 months have come at the same time Bukayo Saka has burst on to the scene.
There seems to be no urgency in 25-year-old’s play, everything is done at a slow tempo. Whereas the same can’t be said for Saka, who picks up the ball and runs at opposition defences as seen by his contributions during the games against Southampton and Brighton.
You get the feeling that a Premier League proven player like Zaha wouldn’t have the same issues that have reared its head with the signing of the former Ligue 1 winger. The Palace ace has always been keen to take on his man and inject some pace into games during his time in England. And this season, he’s added goals and assists to his all-round game that shows him off to be a lethal weapon for the Eagles.
Was Pepe the correct choice? At this moment in time, you’d have to say no. The move to sign Pepe was rather exciting given how many clubs were interested in him, but, it’s safe to say a move for Zaha might have been the smarter option.