Hodgson – Zaha to Arsenal was never close
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson insists Wilfried Zaha never came close to joining Sunday's opponents Arsenal during the summer.
Zaha’s future at Palace was one of the main talking points of the summer transfer window, with the Ivory Coast international making no secret of his desire to leave the club and he even reportedly handed in a transfer request.
Arsenal and Everton were seemingly keen on signing the 26-year-old, with both clubs having bids rejected by Palace, who were determined to keep hold of one of their key men.
A move to the Emirates Stadium appeared to be Zaha’s first choice, but Palace were ultimately able to keep hold of the former Manchester United player, who has since got his head down and has featured in all nine of the Eagles’ league games to date this term.
Zaha will now come up against the side he wanted to join during the summer when Palace head to the Emirates Stadium to take on Arsenal on Sunday and talk of the transfer has reared it’s head once again in the build-up to the match.
However, speaking at his pre-match press conference, Hodgson has insisted that the transfer was never close to happening, with Arsenal failing to match Palace’s valuation of the player before they eventually turned their attention to Nicolas Pepe – who they signed from Lille for a club-record fee of £72million.
“He wasn’t close at all,” said Hodgson. “I believe that the money that was offered, widely reported in newspapers, was reasonably accurate.
“But it fell way below our valuation. Time passed, and maybe their situation changed during a period of time and more money became available [to afford the Pepe deal].”
Palace will actually head into Sunday’s match sitting just a point and place behind the Gunners in the standings and they claimed a 3-2 victory on their last visit to the Emirates Stadium back in April – a match that Zaha scored in, although that is the only time he has ever found the back of the net against the club he supported as a child.