Speaking ahead of his team’s trip across town to the Emirates, Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson has revealed that the transfer of Wilfried Zaha to Arsenal was never close to actually happening.
Arsenal were known long-time admirers of the Ivorian, whose pace and trickery are certainly a reason for worry for any defender he may be facing, not least Arsenal’s on Sunday. And the Gunners have long been searching for a player like that. Remember, manager Unai Emery spoke about it openly near the end of last year, when Arsenal were being linked with the likes of Yannick Carrasco and Ivan Perisic. As it turned out, they only managed to bring in Denis Suarez on loan from Barcelona, with a reported option to buy at the end of the season.
The Spaniard failed utterly, very rarely giving out a glimpse of his undoubted talent and spending most of his days in North London in the treatment room. So when the season ended, he naturally returned to Barcelona without Arsenal taking a second’s worth of thought about it.
But Arsenal’s need for a pacey, wide attacker was still present. And while some reports claimed they would go back for Carrasco who had moved to China and was sending out come-and-get-me pleas, the club turned their attention to Zaha, who had also expressed his wish to leave Selhurst Park.
The reports concerning the negotiations between the Gunners and the Eagles were coming out daily, but it seems now that the actual deal was never even close to fruition. Some of those reports claimed that Arsenal were offering as little as £40 million for his services while Palace demanded twice that amount, and that storyline agrees with what Hodgson is saying.
Asked if the deal was close, he said that it wasn’t close at all, according to his knowledge. He confirmed that the reports about the offer were ‘reasonably accurate’, which was still a long way off from his employers’ valuation of the player.
As you know, Arsenal gave it up and signed Nicolas Pepe instead, and it seems at the moment that it was the right decision.
Arsenal still can be backed at 1/2 to beat the Eagles at the Emirates.