Wilfried Zaha has revealed he held discussions with Unai Emery Arsenal transfer and believes it was a ‘no-brainer’ for the club to sign him ahead of Nicolas Pepe.
Arsenal were close to signing Zaha in 2019 but instead the London side opted to spend a club-record £72m on Nicolas Pepe.
However, Pepe has struggled to make an impact at the club and Zaha believes his vast experience in the Premier League should have convinced Arsenal.
‘I had a conversation with the manager, actually,’ Wilfried Zaha said on The Greatest Game with Jamie Carragher podcast.
‘He was just like, ‘we don’t need to go through much’. He’s seen me play, he knows I can change games at any time and stuff like that. It was like, ‘yeah, we’d love to have you’. And I was just like, ‘I’d love to come’.
‘The conversation was rather straightforward because I’ve played against him when he’s managed Arsenal, he’s seen what I can do, he’s seen my work rate, what I can add to the team.
‘Obviously, it was up to the club who they chose, and obviously they chose Pepe over me.’
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Asked if he believes teams are drawn into signing an overseas player ahead of a talent in the Premier League, Zaha said: ‘Yeah, 100 per cent. 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 who plays in the Premier League who you see week in, week out, and you know what he does… I feel like it’s a no-brainer.
‘The other leagues, I feel like they are totally different, in the Prem there are no easy games whatsoever. Every team is going to give you a run for your money. There’s no game where you’re going to go, ‘yeah, we’re going to win 5-0’.
‘That’s my thought. I totally understand what you mean. I feel like when players come from abroad, I don’t know, they just have that edge with clubs, it’s just like [they say], ‘yeah, I may want him a bit more because he’s from there’.
Zaha added: ‘I supported Arsenal when I was growing up, my whole family supported Arsenal, actually.
‘It’s only when I moved to Man United that I stopped supporting anyone in general. ‘I was still rooting for them [during my first spell at Palace], but when I went to Man United I feel like it’s a whole different mindset over there because you’re competing against these teams now, so you can’t be much of a fanboy like you were before, so that’s when my mentality changed.’