Danny Gabbidon believes Arsenal made a huge mistake by signing Nicolas Pepe ahead of Wilfried Zaha – and also slammed Crystal Palace for not allowing their star man to move on.
Zaha was strongly linked with a move to the Gunners, the club he grew up supporting, and even held talks with then manager Unai Emery back in 2019.
But a move failed to materialise and the north Londoners eventually swooped for his Ivory Coast team-mate Nicolas Pepe, who has failed to live up to his whopping £72million price tag.
And former defender Gabbidon, who was at Palace when Zaha emerged as English football’s hottest prospect, reckons Arsenal chiefs are regretting their transfer decision, while also claiming Everton made the same mistake.
“He’s been unlucky because he was linked with Arsenal before they signed Nicolas Pepe,” said Gabbidon, speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes at its launch of the 5-A-Side Bet on Crystal Palace v Chelsea.
“They could’ve got Zaha for less than Pepe and they’d have had a better player in Wilf, a proven Premier League player.
“So he missed out there, and the other move on the cards was Everton, who of course took Alex Iwobi when Pepe joined Arsenal. Again, they could have got Zaha for £60m but they dished out the best part of £40m on Iwobi.
“In that sense Zaha has been really unlucky.”
Zaha has once again been linked with a move away from Selhurst Park this summer, with the Eagles ace making no secret of his desire to play Champions League football.
And Gabbidon has somewhat bizarrely claimed that Eagles supremo Steve Parish should lower his asking price – because he owes it to Zaha.
The Welshman added: “I have to say I’m surprised Wilfried Zaha is still at Crystal Palace – and I don’t think it’s all his fault. Crystal Palace are aware that Wilf is there best player and they’ve done everything they can to hold on to him.
“You could probably say they’ve priced him out of a move; there’s been interest over the past few years where clubs have felt unwilling to pay the transfer fee Palace have commanded.
“It must be frustrating as a player when you know you’re playing at a certain level and you’ve maybe outgrown your club. You want to move on and test yourself at a higher level, but the club haven’t really got on board with that.
“I just feel at 28, he’s at a point in his career where Palace should reward him with a move just for his service to the club.
“He’s got to a point where he deserves it now, and they could still get around £40m. In a couple of years from now they wouldn’t be able to get that fee, so I’d like to see both parties come to an agreement.
“If Wilf wants to leave in the summer, I’d like to see Palace be a bit realistic about it, lower the fee, take £40m, get someone in to replace him and send him off with their best wishes.”