Unai Emery has spoken about asking Arsenal to sign Wilfried Zaha but ending up with Nicolas Pepe.
The Spaniard was Arsenal’s first manager in the post-Arsene Wenger era. He led the club to the final of the Europa League in 2019 and asked for a new winger that summer.
Arsenal was keen to help him get a player for that position and targeted Zaha as requested.
But they couldn’t reach an agreement with Crystal Palace and made a move for Pepe from Lille, who eventually joined them for £72m.
Emery says that when he moves to a new competition, he tries to sign players who are familiar with it, which is why he wanted to sign Zaha.
He doesn’t argue with the fact that Pepe is a good player, but he knew that it would be easier for Zaha to adapt to the Emirates’ more than Pepe, who was coming from a different country.
‘I usually want to sign first the players I know there,’ Emery told Football London. ‘When we played against Crystal Palace, Zaha showed he was a very good player.
‘I also think Nicolas Pepe is a very good player. When you make the decision you have to decide how easy the adaption will be of some players.
‘I was thinking the adaption was easier for Zaha because he was playing in the Premier League and you didn’t know exactly how fast Nicolas Pepe can adapt to the Premier League because I know you can need some time to adapt.
‘I was thinking at this time that the adaption of Zaha was probably easier and faster than Pepe.’