Former Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway says that Arsenal made the wrong choice when signing Nicolas Pepe, and should have moved for Wilfried Zaha instead.
Arsenal were strongly linked with a move for the Crystal Palace star in 2019, and Unai Emery told football.london that the 28-year-old star was his top pick in the summer transfer window.
Zaha himself stated that he wanted to join the Gunners, but a move did not come to pass, despite talk of a transfer anywhere between £80million and £100million being mooted and the North London side instead signed his Ivory Coast teammate Nicolas Pepe.
Holloway says that Zaha has the same ability as the likes of Manchester City stars Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez to win games on their own, and that Arsenal signed the wrong man when passing up the opportunity to bring in Zaha.
“I had the situation where Wilfried was running out of contract, that was a big problem back then,” Holloway told football.london .
“The way I sort of solved it, we couldn’t pay him the new deal, he wouldn’t have signed the new deal, so we sold him and borrowed him straight back. That dealt with it.
“He scored two goals to get us into the play-off final, he won the penalty to get us back into the Premier League, and I pat myself on the back because if he’d not signed for Manchester United and we’d not borrowed him back on loan, I don’t think we’d have ever settled him down to play.
“He’s at a different stage of his life now. I felt if Sir Alex Ferguson was there he would have loved Wilf. Because I saw him being able to do unlimited things, in my opinion.
“If you can give him the ball just on the edge of the box, like [Riyad] Mahrez, like [Phil] Foden, like Raheem Sterling, Wilf can win you games and will regularly win you games.
“I believe he could play at that level, having seen him myself and the raw talent and the beautiful talent that he’s got. I believe he’s getting better every year, he’s getting end product now. I like where they’re playing him just off the front.
“I would have no doubts if I was at one of these bigger teams. I thought, to be honest with you, Arsenal bought the wrong winger. They brought in [Nicolas] Pepe. I’d have brought in Wilf.
“It’s a big summer for him. And it’s a big summer for Palace. No way do I want to upset their fans by saying he should go. But if he doesn’t, and Palace aren’t going to get there, then I would love to see if he can.”
Ian Holloway was speaking to football.london in conjunction with William Hill. Check out the latest football odds at William Hill.