Rather than signing Nicolas Pepe during last summer’s transfer window, Unai Emery wanted Arsenal to sign Wilfried Zaha’s Crystal Palace.
Ivorian only scored four goals in the Premier League this season after Gunners smashed their transfer record to sign Pepe from Lille, even though they had a close link with Zaha ahead of the 2019-20 campaign.
Emery was overruled by superiors to bring in Zaha to the Emirate Stadium. Emery was sacked as the club’s head coach in November.
“Pepe is a good player but he needs time. When I was there he didn’t give me the performances. I was in favor of someone coming who knew the English league, more than anything so that he wouldn’t need a period of adaptation. I had a meeting with Zaha, the Palace player,” Emery told the Daily Mail.
“He was the player I wanted because I could see that he won so many games on his own. 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 for us!”
This season Pepe has scored six goals and eight assists in 32 appearances in all competitions, while Zaha has recorded three goals and five assists in 30 Palace outings.