NEWS: Unai Emery says Arsenal forced him to sign £72m Pepe when he wanted Zaha

NEWS: Former Arsenal boss Unai Emery on being forced to sign £72m Pepe when he wanted Zaha, as he opens up on Mesut Ozil - again...

NEWS: Unai Emery says Arsenal forced him to sign £72m Pepe when he wanted Zaha

Unai Emery pictured after Arsenal's abject 4-1 capitulation in the Europa League final against Chelsea in Baku. The former Gunners head has been speaking out about his time in north London. CREDIT: OFFSIDE

Former Arsenal boss Unai Emery has claimed forced him to sign £72million winger Nicolas Pepe - when he wanted Crystal Palace attacker Wilfried Zaha.

The north London giants smashed their transfer record to land the Lille forward who hit 24 goals in Ligue 1 last season.

However, the 24-year-old has struggled in his debut season at the Emirates before Covid-19 gripped the globe, causing the cessation of sport including the Premier League.

Emery, who was sacked by Arsenal in December after the worst run of results for decades, has been speaking out about his underwhelming spell in N5. Again.

Talking to the Guardian Emery said of Pepe, who hit six goals in 32 appearances during the truncated 2019-20 campaign: "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.

"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 Pepe 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 spoke about Mesut Ozil, hinting at for his lack of effort.

Emery fell out with the £350,000-a-week German World Cup winner and dropped the creative playmaker for the majority of games this season.

“I spoke a lot with Özil,” Emery said, adding: “He has to be self?critical too, analyse his attitude and commitment. I tried with all my might to help Özil. Throughout my career, talented players have reached their best level with me. I was always positive, wanting him to play, be involved.

“In pre-season I told him I wanted to help recover the best Özil. I wanted a high level of participation and commitment in the dressing room. I respected him and thought he could help. He could have been a captain but the dressing room didn’t want him to be. That’s not what I decided; that’s what the players decided. Captains are ones who have to keep defending the club, the coach, teammates.”

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  1. RobG

    May 17, 2020, 10:24 #116824

    Given Ozil's shocking non-performance in Baku - and' shocking' is exactly what it was - I have more than a little sympathy with Emery on this one. The former Manager is now something of a pantomime villain at the Emirates and I wonder if that's entirely fair ? Some of those now denouncing him, were the loudest to cheer when he arrived. It should be noted that the squad he inherited from Wenger was in a far worse shape than the one Wenger inherited from Rioch. And Arteta is still trying to manage the consequences. It all adds up to tough times, I'm afraid.