Transfer: Arsenal slammed for signing Pepe instead of Zaha
Wilfried Zaha’s former manager, Ian Holloway, has suggested Arsenal have made the wrong choice in signing Nicolas Pepe instead of the Crystal Palace winger.
The Gunners had a £40million offer rejected by the Eagles, who claimed the bid fell way short of their valuation of Zaha.
Unai Emery’s side ultimately decided to switch their focus to Pepe, whom they have agreed a club-record £72m deal, leaving Zaha’s hopes of a move to the Emirates dashed.
“I am very surprised that Arsenal rate Nicolas Pepe better than Wilfried Zaha.
“I certainly don’t. I would be very sad if I don’t ever see Wilfried Zaha playing in the Champions League.
“I feel he is good enough for anyone in the world, including the teams that get there. At the moment Everton can’t get to the Champions League. There is no wrong way to go about getting a move these days. I thought he had his best season ever last year.
“He is starting to add the end product to his performances. He has been handled fantastically well by [Crystal Palace manager and assistant] Roy Hodgson and Ray Lewington. The experience that those two have got, they were smart enough to move him from one of the wide areas to be centre forward.
“If you leave him on his own with your last man when you are dominating the ball then you can be in trouble if Palace win it back. So it is all about end product with him, I always think ‘come on son, you can do that’. I see maturity in his play now.
“I believe at the very, very top level, if he plays with a team that can keep the ball away from you, who also win it back very quickly and dominate a game [he’ll do well]. If you give him the ball on the edge of the 18-yard box then he can win games, even for Manchester City.
“He would have to learn what the likes of Pep Guardiola want but I think he would [do well at the top level]. He is good enough for any team in the Premier League now. I may be biased because I have seen him close at hand.
“He is one I would pay to watch. He is trying to shine and I have all the time in the world for him,” Holloway told Goal at the launch of EFL on Quest.