Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha has revealed details of a failed move to Arsenal while adding that he was close to joining the Gunners.
Wilfried Zaha has opened up on his failed move to Arsenal in 2019, revealing he held positive talks with Unai Emery before the club decided to move for Nicolas Pepe instead.
The Palace star, a well-known Arsenal fan, was heavily linked with a move away from Selhurst Park ahead of the 2019-2020 season. At the time, both the Gunners and Everton were keen on signing the Ivory Coast international.
Palace held firm to their valuation of the winger and Arsenal instead opted to pay Lille a club record £72million fee to sign Pepe, who has failed to hit the heights since he arrived in the Premier League.
Speaking on Jamie Carragher’s The Greatest Game Podcast, Zaha revealed his talks with Emery were ‘straightforward’.
“I had a conversation with the manager. [Unai] Emery 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 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.”
Zaha said he thought it would have made sense for Arsenal to opt for a proven name in the Premier League but believes players from overseas are often favored for big money transfers.
He 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.”
Zaha has impressed so far this season with eight goals to his name in 15 games this season.