Wilfried Zaha admits it was ‘amazing’ to come so close to signing for Arsenal whilst also supporting the club, but it just didn’t work out.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 19: Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace reacts during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Manchester City at Selhurst Park on October 19, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND: Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace reacts during a Premier League match on October 19, 2019. (Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images)

As is common knowledge by now, Arsenal tried to sign Wilfried Zaha last summer. Unai Emery confirmed as much recently, claiming he actually preferred to bring in the Crystal Palace player over Nicolas Pepe.

With the fee Palace wanted and the fact they didn’t really want to sell at all, however, the Arsenal hierarchy decided to go against the head coach and bring in the younger Pepe instead. Unfortunately, that left Zaha missing out on the chance to join his boyhood club.

“It was nice,” Zaha admitted. “Supporting them and having them wanting you at the same time, leaves you thinking: ‘this is amazing.’

“But things never worked out so you just have to move on as quick as possible. I was thinking this may happen. But my whole family was watching and it just didn’t work out.”

At the end of the day, I’m still happy we got Pepe. He has more goals and more assists in fewer appearances this season so far, despite joining a new team in a new league, at a younger age with a higher ceiling based on his 2018/19 campaign.

All the same, it’s always sad to hear that a player who supports Arsenal came so close to joining and missed out. If the club had money to spare this summer, I’d back them returning for the winger. The Gunners could use him opposite Pepe on the left.

They don’t have that money, though. At least nowhere near what Palace would want. With a contract until 2023 – at which point Zaha will be 30 – it’s difficult to see how the transfer happens now.