Arsenal FC

Arsenal should avoid signing Wilfried Zaha this summer

By Harry Symeou
Apr 9, 2021, 5:00 PM GMT+1
Wilfried Zaha was heavily linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium in the summer of 2019
Wilfried Zaha was heavily linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium in the summer of 2019 | Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images
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It wasn't long ago Arsenal opted to sign Nicolas Pepe over Wilfried Zaha for a club-record fee of £72m. It was the wrong decision at the time (obviously) but trying to rectify that mistake now would be irresponsible given the Gunners clearly have far more pressing issues that need addressing.

As exclusively revealed by 90min earlier this week, the Gunners have reignited their interest in the player but two summers on - breaking the bank for him would make very little sense.

It is fair to say that despite his huge transfer fee the signing of Pepe hasn't worked out. He finds himself in and out of the side and hasn't been able to find anywhere near the consistency levels required.

Meanwhile, in south London his fellow Ivorian continues to perform having netted nine times in the Premier League this season - in comparison to Pepe's five.

The club's boss at the time has admitted to wanting the Crystal Palace winger and the 28-year-old has since revealed conversations between him and Unai Emery over a potential move took place.

When it came to choosing between the two players, both of whom were willing to join the Gunners, the fact Lille were more open to the idea of a structured payment plan along with Pepe being approximately three years his junior meant the decision was taken out of Emery's hands.

From a football perspective, it's proven to have been a terrible call but having suffered a loss of close to £50m in revenue due to the pandemic as well as staring the possibility of being without European football next season in the face - can Arsenal afford to sign Zaha?

Player sales are going to dictate what the club are able to spend this summer and with Alexandre Lacazette, Hector Bellerin, Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira among others being linked with a move away, there is a chance the Gunners could raise significant funds but the wide areas should not be the priority.

Nicolas Pepe, Willian
Nicolas Pepe and Willian have both proven to be inconsistent this season | Pool/Getty Images

It's an area Arsenal could do with strengthening in given the inconsistent form of Pepe and Willian, but the priority has to be addressing the centre of midfield issue along with securing Martin Odegaard's services for at least another season.

Whether it will be possible to achieve all of the above remains to be seen but in the event Arsenal can raise some cash during the summer - signing Zaha shouldn't be anywhere near the top of the priority list. His Premier League pedigree is unquestionable, for years he's proven the difference between survival and relegation for the Eagles but with the player due to turn 29 later this year anything more than £40m would feel excessive.

He'd add goals from a wide area, is a competent dribbler - something the Gunners are missing at present and would certainly be an upgrade on most of their current options. However, unless Lacazette is sold therefore allowing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to move back into his preferred centre-forward position, vacating the left wing, he too would become part of Arteta's rotational system and represent a bad investment.

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