Paul Merson has urged Arsenal to consider signing Wilfried Zaha to replace Nicolas Pepe, insisting the Crystal Palace ace could make a huge difference.
Wilfried Zaha has had an unusual career, as he continues to perform at the highest level with Crystal Palace. Despite getting a big move to Manchester United early in his career, the attacker failed to impress those at Old Trafford, then swiftly returned to his comfort zone at Selhurst Park.
Occupying the role of a senior figurehead under Patrick Vieira this season, Zaha has become one of the most important players for the club. A few years back, he did flirt with the idea of moving away from Crystal Palace and was left frustrated as the Eagles refused to decrease their asking price.
Arsenal were interested in Zaha during the summer of 2019, but considering the massive £80 million price tag Crystal Palace demanded, they signed Nicolas Pepe instead. The former Lille star has failed to cement a place in the team under Mikel Arteta, struggling to adapt to the demands of Premier League football.
There are talks of Arsenal seeking a new wide attacker in the summer, with PSV Eindhoven’s Cody Gakpo linked with a move. Those are indications from the Gunners over the uncertain future of Pepe, who might be allowed to leave the club.
Arsenal reportedly blocked a January move for Pepe, as Arteta wanted to keep his team intact until the end of the season. With a new wide forward expected to arrive at the Emirates, Paul Merson insists the club should sign Zaha to replace Pepe.
In his column for the Daily Star, Merson insisted Zaha could bring something different to Arteta’s side and urged the Arsenal manager to sign the 29-year-old Crystal Palace star in the summer.
Merson said, “They wanted him before and missed out. But Zaha wanted to join them and I don’t think he’ll stay at Palace forever. I think he would have made a difference to Arsenal. He’s better than Nicolas Pepe. He draws players towards him and makes things happen.”
“It’s a good time for Mikel Arteta to buy him. You’d get him a bit cheaper, and he’s a better player now than he was when they tried before. I think Pepe goes this summer if they can find a buyer, and sooner or later, they will try Gabriel Martinelli upfront.”
“So I definitely think there is room for another winger like Zaha in the team, and I think he’d get lots of minutes. I think Zaha makes much better decisions these days. He commits players. And the way Arsenal play, he would free up space for others.
If Zaha becomes available, Crystal Palace will likely let him leave for a reasonable fee, considering there is no high-value ceiling on the 29-year-old attacker from two years ago. The Ivory Coast international would certainly jump at the chance of signing for Arsenal, who could make do with an experienced star such as the wide forward as they look to progress in the Premier League.