Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha reveals why he missed out on Arsenal transfer

The winger says he was close to a move, before the Gunners opted for another forward instead

Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha has opened up on his failed move to Arsenal in 2019, with the Gunners making a move for Nicolas Pepe instead. Pepe, a fellow Ivory Coast international, ended up making the club-record transfer to the Emirates for £72million.

The 26-year-old has made just 15 appearances in the Premier League this season, scoring once and assisting once in those games. It marks a disappointing record given the transfer fee, with academy youngster Bukayo Saka taking up his preferred right-wing role.

Pepe did, however, enjoy a decent spell in the Africa Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast, scoring in his time away. Following the trip, Mikel Arteta revealed he wants to give the winger more chances: “I don’t want to have a player like him sitting on the bench and not using him and the moment I have chances, I want to give him a chance.”

“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.” It shows just how close things were to turning out differently for both clubs, though his nine goals and one assist in the Premier League suggests he could have carried that form over.

Whether it would have worked though will forever be a mystery, but it remains a big “what if?” 

Published/Updated on 15/04/[email protected]:20