Speaking to Jamie Carragher on The Greatest Game podcast, Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha opened up about his failed transfer to Arsenal in the summer of 2019.
The Ivorian was heavily linked with a move to the Emirates 18 months ago. Unai Emery was reportedly a massive fan of him, but Palace’s £80 million valuation (Daily Mail) made a deal too expensive for us.
Arsenal signed Nicolas Pepe for £72 million (BBC) instead and it is safe to say that the former Lille man has struggled. Many fans still wonder what might have been if we had signed Zaha instead, and the Palace star has now revealed how close he was to a move.
Zaha claims he had a direct conversation with then Arsenal boss Unai Emery. The Spaniard apparently told him that he would love him at the Emirates, but the club’s hierarchy decided to go with Pepe instead.
“I had a conversation with the manager (Emery), He was just like we don’t really need to go through much. 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’. The conversation was rather straight forward because I’ve played against him, 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.”
Should Arteta consider signing Zaha?
Pepe has been struggling at Arsenal, there is no hiding that. The former Lille man has shown flashes of brilliance during his time here, but consistency has remained his biggest problem.
Mikel Arteta could well look at another winger this month or in the summer. The Arsenal boss is a huge fan of Zaha and even called him a ‘terrific player’ earlier this year. (Arsenal.com)
However, the Ivorian is 28 already and it does look like his dreams of a big move to a club like Arsenal will remain unfulfilled.