Rio Ferdinand tells Arsenal to correct Nicolas Pepe error by signing free agent

Rio Ferdinand says Arsenal should consider a swoop for potential free agent Wilfried Zaha, a player he believes the Gunners should have signed three years ago when they instead opted for Nicolas Pepe.

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The Crystal Palace star is about to enter the final six months of his contract and appears increasingly likely to leave Selhurst Park on a free transfer next summer when his current deal expires.

Zaha has been linked with a host of clubs – with Spanish giants Barcelona the latest team rumoured to be interested – though a switch to another Premier League side appears to be the most likely outcome.

Ferdinand feels the 29-year-old would strengthen most top-six teams but especially Arsenal and Newcastle, saying the Gunners messed up by not signing Zaha back in 2019 when they instead spent £72million on Pepe.

Speaking on his Vibe with FIVE YouTube show, Ferdinand said: ‘He’d be good at Arsenal I think.

‘At Arsenal he’d be a good challenge to the two [Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli] that are there and a good option. They should have bought him when they bought Pepe!’

Also backing Zaha to be a hit at Newcastle, he continued: ‘If I’m Newcastle I buy him, straight up. And I’d take him and I’d sell Allan Saint-Maximin.

‘Or I’d have them both. He scores more than Saint-Maximin. I think Wilfried Zaha at Newcastle is a problem mate.’

Speaking more generally about the likelihood of Zaha leaving Palace at the end of the season, Ferdinand said: ‘He’s probably had people tapping him up already, he’s probably got a club semi-lined up if not 100% lined up already.

‘If I’m Wilfried Zaha, it comes down to two things: it will come down to money – who’s going to pay him the most money? – and it will come down to where will his career go to another level. Will he have a chance to win [trophies] maybe?

‘Out of the big teams in the league, the top six, are there any of those teams that want him or need him? And will he go and play?

‘Because I know Wilf, Wilf ain’t looking to go nowhere and be a squad player. I don’t see Wilf wanting to do that, that’s not in Wilf’s nature – unless he changes.

‘But if Wilf goes somewhere and they say he’s going to be a squad player, I think he’ll say, “Get me on the first bus back to Palace!”’

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