Wilfried Zaha Says Arsenal 'Chose Pepe Over Me' In Revealing Interview
Crystal Palace talisman Wilfried Zaha has revealed just how close he came to an Arsenal transfer.
The Ivory Coast international has long been linked with a move to the Emirates, but it has never materialised.
However, it definitely came very close while Unai Emery was in charge of the Gunners, with Zaha revealing on Jamie Carragher's The Greatest Game podcast that he spoke with the coach about joining the north Londoners.
Despite this, Arsenal went for Nicolas Pepe in the end, who has gone on to struggle to justify his £72 million transfer fee under both Emery and current boss Mikel Arteta.
It seems that Pepe's Arsenal career is over- TheGoalFactory (@thegoalfactory_) January 4, 2021
If only he scored here the story could've been so different pic.twitter.com/X0MvlKiHOF
Zaha believes that the fact Pepe played abroad made him more attractive to the Gunners. Pepe came to the Premier League off the back of scoring 22 goals in 38 Ligue 1 games during the 2018-19 season.
"I had a conversation with the manager. [Unai] Emery was just like, 'We don't really need to go through much'," Zaha said.
"He said he'd seen me play, he knows I can change games at any time and stuff like that. He was like, 'Yeah we'd love to have you' and I was just like, 'Yeah I'd love to come'.
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"The conversation was rather straightforward because I played against him when he was manager of Arsenal. He saw what I could do, saw my work-rate, and what I could add to the team.
"Obviously, it was up to the club who they chose and they chose Pepe over me."
Hard-work. Nothing else :muscle: pic.twitter.com/mlKm6Rj6AR- Wilfried Zaha (@wilfriedzaha) January 7, 2021
Zaha added: "You're seeing a player come from Brazil or another league - they're always going to attract more attention.
"But, I just think if there's a player that plays in the Premier League, you see him week in, week out. You know what he does.
"I feel like it's a no-brainer. The other leagues are totally different."
Since missing out on the transfer, Zaha has continued to star for Crystal Palace, his impressive performances a big reason why they are still in the Premier League.
Did Arsenal make a mistake here?
Featured Image Credit: PA
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