Mikel Arteta has talked up the talents of “exceptional” Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha but refused to be drawn on speculation linking the player to Arsenal.
In 2019, Zaha met with then Gunners boss Unai Emery to discuss a possible transfer to north London but the club instead plumped for his Ivory Coast team-mate Nicolas Pepe.
Pepe has since struggled under the burden of his club-record £72million pricetag while Zaha has continued to excel at Palace.
‘He has done exceptionally well’
Asked if he would have liked to have worked with Zaha, the Arsenal boss said on Monday: “Well, undoubtedly he’s a player that has done exceptionally well in the Premier League.
“He has created a big name because of what he’s been able to do – sometimes just on his own with some individual actions. That’s what people highlight all the time.
“But yes he’s a player that’s playing for Palace at the moment and I have nothing to comment.”
Zaha is 10/1 to move to Emirates Stadium in the January window but still has more than two years left on his current deal at Selhurst Park.
Speaking recently about his failed move in 2019, Zaha said he felt the decision to sign him over Pepe was a “no-brainer” at the time.
“I just think if there’s a player who plays in the Premier League who you see week in, week out, and you know what he does… I feel like it’s a no-brainer,” the boyhood Arsenal fan told Jamie Carragher’s Greatest Game podcast.
“The other leagues, I feel like they are totally different, in the Prem there are no easy games whatsoever. Every team is going to give you a run for your money. There’s no game where you’re going to go, ‘yeah, we’re going to win 5-0’.”
Zaha would add new dimension to Arsenal
Pepe has created just two chances in 11 Premier League matches for the Gunners this term while Zaha has played 16 key passes in 15 appearances.
Zaha has also completed more take-ons per 90 minutes and while he has had fewer shots, the Palace man is far more efficient in front of goal this term – outscoring Pepe eight to two in the league.
Of course, things might have played out differently for Zaha at Emirates Stadium, but his statistics point to an individual flair – singled out in Monday’s press conference by Arteta – which would certainly add a new dimension to the Gunners attack.
Zaha added: “I’m very ambitious so in my football career I want to sit back – not that this may not happen with Palace – I want to sit back and say I’ve managed to win this.
“I take every day as it comes and see what happens in the future.”
Wilfried Zaha to join before February 2 (via SkyBet)
- Everton 6/1
- Arsenal 10/1
- PSG 16/1
- Dortmund 20/1
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