Former Arsenal boss Unai Emery has revealed that the club signed in Nicholas Pepe against his wish.

The Spaniard who was sacked earlier in the season in an interview with The Guardian said he had talked with Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha over a potential move and the Ivory Coast international had agreed to join him at the Emirates.

“We signed Pépé. He’s a good player but we didn’t know his character and he needs time, patience. I favoured someone who knew the league and wouldn’t need to adapt.

“Zaha won games on his own: Tottenham, Manchester City, us. Incredible performances. I told them: ‘This is the player I know and want.’

“I met Zaha and he wanted to come. The club decided Pépé was one for the future. I said: ‘Yes, but we need to win now and this lad wins games.’ He beat us on his own. It’s also true he was expensive and Palace didn’t want to sell. There were a series of decisions that had repercussions,” Emery said.

Zaha’s move to Arsenal was hit the headlines in the 2019 summer but it is said they were put off by Palace’s valuation of £100m with the club having a thought that it was too much for one player.

Zaha even went further to hand in a transfer request but by that time, the hierarchy at Arsenal had turned their attention on Pepe who had done wonders with Lille; the player landing at North London for a club-record £72m.


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