Nicolas Pepe signed for Arsenal from Lille for a club-record fee of £72 million in 2019. He enjoyed a stellar season with Lille before joining the Gunners. He registered 22 goals and 11 assists in 37 appearances for the French side.
The 25-year-old impressed many with his trickery and skills with the ball. But hasn’t been as prolific in Arsenal as he was in Lille. Pepe arrived in North London with a huge reputation. He has scored just 6 and assisted 6 more in the Premier League since 2019 from the right-wing. But according to pundits, his performances did not justify his price tag.
The Gunners drew their last away Premier League 0-0 match against Leeds United. They finished the game with 10 men owing to the red card of Nicolas Pepe. He was sent off for headbutting Leeds defender Ezgjan Alioski.
Mikel Arteta deemed this conduct as unacceptable after the game.
Although his performance in the Europa League has been pretty impressive. He scored a goal in Arsenal’s 3-0 win against Molde in his next fixture, but it is not enough.
Arsenal legend Ian Wright on Nicolas Pepe
Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright was very unhappy with Pepe’s actions in the Leeds game. He labelled him as totally unprofessional and stated that Pepe let everyone down.
“Pepe has let everybody down. He needs better advice around him.”
Ian Wright was one of the best Premier League strikers during his Arsenal stint. He previously backed Pepe and suggested that he needs time to adapt to the Premier League. But after seeing him for the last one-and-a-half season at Arsenal, he seems to be a bit impatient.
“He’s someone that we have a lot of faith in and he seems to me that he’s not getting better.”
“I’m very disappointed in him.”– Ian Wright
Paul Merson on Nicolas Pepe
Another Arsenal great Paul Merson also was not happy with Pepe’s performances. He told Daily Sport,
“Nicolas Pepe looks out of his depth and he’s going to have to do it against much better teams than Molde to change my opinion.”
“He came in for £70-odd million. If they’d bought him for £20m nobody would be moaning. But the fee brings pressure, and he’s not been able to handle it.”– Merson on Pepe
Although he did not blame him for Arsenal’s struggles this season after a promising start. He thinks Arteta still doesn’t know his best team which is worrying him as he’s been the manager for quite some time now.
But he also said,
“Arteta is safe as houses. He’s going to get time. But he needs to find his best team and stick with it because it’s not working right now.”– Merson on Arteta and Arsenal
There is no doubt that Nicolas Pepe is a very special talent. The price tag of him might have put some added pressure on him. He certainly hasn’t lived up to the expectations even though he’s had more than a year to adapt in England.
So he must start putting in some good performances to cement his place in the Arsenal squad and silence the critics.
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