Former Arsenal head coach Unai Emery has said that he wanted to sign Wilfried Zaha ahead of Nicolas Pepe last summer.
Following a crushing 4-1 defeat in last season’s Europa League final at the hands of Chelsea, the Gunners were heavily linked with a move for the Crystal Palace winger, but ended up signing his Ivory Coast teammate for a club record £72m instead.
A transfer decision which Emery has claimed he was eventually overruled on by head of football Raul Sanllehi and technical director Edu.
Click to play
Tap to play
The video will start in8Cancel
“We signed [Nicolas] Pépé. He’s a good player but we didn’t know his character and he needs time, patience. I favoured someone who knew the league and wouldn’t need to adapt,” Emery told the Guardian.
“[Wilfried] Zaha won games on his own: Tottenham, Manchester City, us.
“Incredible performances. I told them: ‘This is the player I know and want.’ I met Zaha and he wanted to come.
“The club decided Pépé was one for the future. I said: ‘Yes, but we need to win now and this lad wins games.’ He beat us on his own.
“It’s also true he was expensive and Palace didn’t want to sell.
“There were a series of decisions that had repercussions.”
Emery also opened up on what went wrong in the Europa League final.
“In Baku Chelsea were better, I accept that. In the second half Eden Hazard made the difference. Preparations were good and everyone was committed,” he added. “But some players had a mentality that says one day ‘yes’, one day ‘no’, when in football it has to be ‘yes’, ‘yes’, ‘yes’ every day.
“We lacked that little extra to get through a lot of games in those final weeks. If your application and commitment falls below 100%, you can lose, and that’s what happened.
“People were happy but something was missing. “I told the people running the club. And then there were decisions that didn’t go well.
Why should you sign up?
In each football.london Arsenal bulletin, we’ll be bringing you the latest breaking news, transfer features and comment pieces, as well as the key talking points for fans.
We’ll also send special newsletters when big stories break or there’s a special event happening.
How do you sign up?
It’s easy and only takes seconds.
Simply type your email address into the box at the top of this article – or any article on the Arsenal section of football.london in fact – labelled ‘Get the biggest daily stories by email’ and click ‘Subscribe’.
And that’s it, you’re all set.
If you decide later that you no longer wish to receive the emails, simply follow the unsubscribe link in one of the newsletters – but we don’t think you’ll want to.
For more details, click here.
“Mistakes were made, and as coach I take responsibility for mine.
“For example, all four captains left. Ramsey had decided he was going. It would have been better for…