I wanted Zaha, Arsenal chose Pepe – Unai Emery
Emery continues to relive his 18 months adventure at Arsenal ended, the latest episode was an interview from his home in Valencia.
The tactician opened up on a series of happenings behind the scenes including the transfer on Nicolas Pepe, Mesut Ozil’s poor attitude, and the captain’s armband.
Maybe age is not just a number
Emery revealed Arsenal chose Pepe over Wilfred Zaha because of the age difference between them:
‘’I had a meeting with Zaha. He was the one I wanted and he wanted to come. But the club decided Pepe was younger.
‘’Pepe is a good player but he needs time. When I was there he didn’t give me the performances. I was in favour of someone coming who knew the English league, more than anything so that he wouldn’t need a period of adaptation. I had a meeting with Zaha, the Palace player.
‘’He was the player I wanted because I could see that he won so many games on his own, I saw 20 Zaha games, some incredible performances and I told them that this is the player that I want for this team, I spoke to Zaha.’’
Before adding: ‘’I had been with him personally, and he wanted to come, It’s also true that he was an expensive player, and Crystal Palace didn’t want to sell him.”
Ozil was ‘Not Good Enough’
When asked about Mesut Ozil’s contract renewal that made him the highest earner at the club Emery paused and said:
‘’I tried my utmost to help Ozil. Throughout my career, talented players have been my favorites and they have played at their best or close to their best with me. Read: Why Ozil’s criticism is unfair
‘’I was always positive with him in terms of wanting him to be involved, but then the attitude that he adopted, and the commitment levels, well, they weren’t enough.
‘’One of the captains could possibly have been Ozil but the dressing room didn’t want him to be captain. His level of commitment was not that of someone who deserved to be captain, and that’s not what I decided, that’s what the players decided.’’
Read: Premier League clubs threaten to boycott training
Arsenal lacked leaders
Unai Emery also berated the loss of leaders in the team and the impact of the economic decision on the on-field play.
‘’When I arrived at the club I saw Ramsey was going to be very important, he’s a leader on the pitch and in the dressing room and he wanted to stay. Logically he then needed to negotiate a new contract and they didn’t reach an agreement.
‘’I never get involved in the economic side of things, that’s not my area. But it then has repercussions on the pitch, I think, for the team it would have been better if he had carried on, and for me as coach too, because he was the next captain.
‘’We had allowed [Petr] Cech to go and Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal were allowed to leave. So if Ramsey goes too then all four captains have gone.
‘’That’s four very important players missing and the next season we go for young players. I had a point of view and the club had another.
After the departure of these players Arsenal needed someone to step into take on the captain’s armband, Granit Xhaka took on the burden of that responsibility but Emery admitted during his interview that Xhaka needed time and guiadance to get used to the role.
‘’I believed that [Granit] Xhaka could be a captain and we gave it to him because the players voted for him to be captain, Xhaka needs time to be a good captain.
‘’ You don’t win everyone over just like that, you need to earn that credibility, If he’d had Koscielny and Nacho [Monreal] alongside him or if he’d had Ramsey, he would have been eased into it’’
Unai Emery is currently without a job but reports are linking him to his former club Sevilla.