Unai Emery makes surprise claim about Arsenal’s record £72m Nicolas Pepe transfer

Former Arsenal manager Unai Emery has claimed that it wasn’t his decision to sign Nicolas Pepe from Lille and that the club made the choice on the transfer.

The Ivory Coast international moved to the Emirates Stadium on a club-record deal from Lille in the summer transfer window and initially struggled to settle in the Premier League.

His arrival came on the back of a summer when Arsenal were linked with a number of wide players, including Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha, but Pepe was the final choice.

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However, Emery has suggested that he was not the man who pushed to get the deal over the line and it was in fact the club that made the decision.

“We needed time to succeed with our transition to a new Arsenal which is what I wanted. For example, Nicolas Pépé, who was the club’s choice, clearly needed time to adapt,” he told France Football, as per Get Football News France.

“But I accept the rule of thumb and that I am poorly placed to criticise because I also benefited from such judgement in the past.

“I obviously am partly responsible, but you see that the team has not exactly done better since I left.”

The 24-year-old has made 27 appearances in all competitions this season, scoring five goals and contributing three assists.

Emery also opened up on the factors which led to his sacking.

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“Arsenal was a club on a downward slope for two years before I arrived,”

“We stopped this fall and even began to rebuild the club with the Europa League final and 5th place in the league, only one point off of Tottenham despite the fact that we took just one point in our final five matches.

“We had Champions League qualification in our grasp and it went wrong in the end. But it was a good season and we had this notion of continuing to improve.

“But we lost our four captains: Koscielny, Cech, Ramsey and Monreal. They were personalities that we missed this season to stay on the right track.

“And some stars did not have a good attitude and asked for more than what they were giving back.

“Taking all of that into account, we needed time to succeed with our transition to a new Arsenal which is what I wanted.”