Arsenal: Unai Emery reveals why he wanted to sign Wilfried Zaha over Nicolas Pepe

The Gunners made Ivorian international winger Pepe the most expensive player in the club’s history when they paid Lille £72m to sign him last summer

Ben Burrows
Saturday 16 May 2020 12:45
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Nicolas Pépé discusses his adaptation to the Premier League

Former Arsenal manager Unai Emery has revealed how he wanted Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha over club-record signing Nicolas Pepe.

The Gunners made Ivorian international winger Pepe the most expensive player in the club’s history when they paid Lille £72m to sign him last summer.

The 24-year-old has gone to enjoy a difficult start to life in English football prompting suggestions that the money have been better spent elsewhere.

And now Emery, who was sacked last November after a poor run of results, says he was in favour of signing Zaha, a player who had proven himself a match-winner against the Gunners on a number of occasions.

“I had a meeting with Zaha, the Palace player. He was the player I wanted because I could see that he won so many games on his own,” he told the Daily Mail.

“I saw 20 Zaha games, some incredible performances and I told them that this is the player that I want for this team.

“I spoke to Zaha. I had been with him personally. And he wanted to come.

“But the club decided that Pepe was younger, he was one for the future. I said: ‘yes, but we need to win now and this lad [Zaha] wins games’. He did it to us!”

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