“It was up to the club who they chose and they chose Pepe over me.”
Wilfried Zaha has made 230 Premier League appearances to date, scoring 44 goals with 26 assists.
The majority of those games were for his local club Crystal Palace after an unsuccessful time at Manchester United, including a short-term loan at Cardiff City.
However, Zaha actually supported Arsenal as a boy and was very close to moving to the Gunners in the summer of 2019.
Speaking on Jamie Carragher’s ‘The Greatest Game’ Podcast, Zaha said: “I supported Arsenal when I was growing up, my whole family supported Arsenal actually.”
Carragher then asked the Crystal Palace winger if it came down between himself and Nicolas Pepe for Arsenal.
Zaha replied: “I had a conversation with the manager [Unai Emery] actually. Emery was just like we don’t really need to go through much.
“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 straight forward 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.
Ultimately, Arsenal decided to sign Pepe for £72m. Things could have worked out so differently for the north London club though as Zaha’s Ivory Coast teammate has struggled since arriving at The Emirates Stadium.
Zaha continues: “Obviously, it was up to the club who they chose. And they chose Pepe over me.”
When Carragher asked Zaha on foreign players getting more of a look-in then established Premier League players, the former Manchester United player was in full agreement.
He replied: “100%. You’re seeing a player come from Brazil or another league. They’re always going to attract more attention really.
“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.
Thanks for having me 👊🏿 https://t.co/ie8hbMkzVA
— Wilfried Zaha (@wilfriedzaha) January 7, 2021
“The other leagues, I feel like they’re totally different. Like in the Premier League, there are no easy games whatsoever. Every team is going to give you a run for your money.
“There’s no game when you’re going to be like ‘yeah, we’re going to win 5-0 today’ there’s no team [like that] so they’re my thoughts anyway.
“I totally understand what you mean. I feel like when players come from abroad or whatever, I don’t know they just have that edge. Clubs maybe want him a bit more because he’s from there.”