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Crystal Palace star Zaha reveals talks with Emery before Arsenal signed Pepe

The Gunners were keen on bolstering their attacking options with the Crystal Palace forward before swooping for his compatriot in Lille

Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha has revealed the conversation he had with Unai Emery before Arsenal signed Nicolas Pepe for a club-record deal in August 2019.

Emery was keen on having Zaha but they eventually moved for his Ivory Coast teammate who scored 22 goals in 38 Ligue 1 matches in the 2018-19 season.

The Gunners spent £72 million to sign Pepe, however, Zaha disclosed what went down when the Spaniard approached him.

“I had a conversation with the manager. [Unai] Emery was just like, ‘We don’t really need to go through much’,” the 28-year-old told the Greatest Game Podcast.

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“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.”

Emery was sacked in November 2019 after a poor run of results in all competitions but he admitted that he preferred signing Zaha to Pepe.

The Crystal Palace talisman who has been the subject of reported transfer interest from several clubs in recent years, has contributed eight goals and two assists in the Premier League this season and he said Arsenal’s choice for Pepe was an easy decision.

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Zaha explained; “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.”

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