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The two reasons why Arsenal picked Nicolas Pepe over Wilfried Zaha

Arsenal are nearing a move for Lille sensation Pepe.

The Ivory Coast winger enjoyed a breakout season last term, scoring 22 goals in Ligue 1, second-best only to PSG wonderkid Kylian Mbappe.

Pepe helped to guide Lille to a highly impressive second place in the French top tier, their best finish since winning the league in 2010/11.

But despite guaranteed Champions League football this season, it seems the 24-year-old is more eager to play in the Premier League with Arsenal.

The Gunners are understood to be closing in on a £72m switch, with the player reportedly agreeing on a move.

But it could have been a completely different story with Arsenal’s attention on another attacking player at the start of the summer.

Initially, Unai Emery was thought to be chasing Crystal Palace forward Zaha.

An international team-mate of Pepe, the former Manchester United man has publicly admitted he is an Arsenal fan in the past, fuelling talk of a move.

READ MORE: Why Nicolas Pepe snubbed Napoli for Arsenal

The two reasons why Arsenal picked Nicolas Pepe over Wilfried Zaha

The two reasons why Arsenal picked Nicolas Pepe over Wilfried Zaha (Pic: GETTY)

Nicolas Pepe was Lille's Player of the Season last term with his 22 goals

Pepe was Lille’s Player of the Season last term with his 22 goals (Pic: GETTY)

However, the two London clubs never managed to reach an agreement for the player, with Arsenal not willing to cough up the majority of Palace’s asking price up front.

Instead, according to the Independent, Lille’s consent to spread the fee over a number of instalments is a much more attractive option to the Gunners.

Furthermore, Emirates bosses were put off their pursuit of Zaha due to the hefty demands of the representatives of both the club and the player.

A combination of the two has seen Arsenal ditch their interest in the 26-year-old, who was expected to cost a similar amount to £72m Pepe.

Wilfried Zaha is a publicly known Arsenal fan, but his move to north London has fallen through

Zaha is a publicly known Arsenal fan, but his move to north London has fallen through (Pic: GETTY)

Instead, Zaha could now join Premier League rivals Everton, although they may need up their £60m offer to convince Palace to do business.

Pepe, meanwhile, is expected to complete a medical with Arsenal in the coming days.

He will reportedly sign a contract until 2024 worth around £5.5m a year.

READ MORE: Why Wilfried Zaha was their Arsenal’s priority target

Original article: https://www.dailystar.co.uk/sport/football/794870/Arsenal-transfer-news-Nicolas-Pepe-latest-Wilfried-Zaha

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