Nicolas Pepe is returning to Arsenal after a mixed loan spell at OGC Nice. The Ivorian international is due to meet Gunners bosses to decide on his future. A move away from Arsenal is more than likely.
Back on loan from OGC Nice, Nicolas Pepe is not expected to stay at Arsenal for long. The English giants are already looking for a way out for the Ivorian international. The former Lille man is considered a ‘flop’ at the Gunners and his market value has dropped considerably. An €80 million failure.
After an extraordinary season with Lille (22 goals, 11 assists), Nicolas Pepe landed at Arsenal in August 2019 for a cheque for €80 million. A record for the English club. After that, the Ivorian striker was a shadow of his former self. He continued to underperform until the emergence of young talents trained at the club, including Bukayo Saka. The young Englishman, now one of the team’s key players, emerged ahead of the Ivorian and made him a substitute. Minutes became scarce for Nicolas and he was unable to seize the opportunities offered to him by Mikel Artéta, who he admits helped him a great deal.
“People say that he identified me as a player who wasn’t part of his plans. That’s completely untrue.When he arrived, he had the Manchester City philosophy.He told me that he was counting on me, that he wanted me to play in a certain way (…) He made me progress in all areas. I watched videos with his assistants and talked to him all the time. He really believed in me. He told me that I had incredible potential and that I had to make the most of it (…) It’s not true that he labelled me. That’s not true at all. He helped me in all areas, in terms of tactics and game intelligence.His philosophy requires a lot of intelligence,”Said the Gunners striker in an interview with YouTube channel Colintervie.
Despite the support and confidence of the Spanish coach, Pepe was unable to turn things around. Worse still, he even went out on loan to Nice for a season. Although he began to rediscover his sensations in the first half of the season, he sank in the second with a knee injury.He played just 28 games in all competitions, scoring 8 goals.
Failure at Arsenal: language barrier or mental weakness?
After 3 years at Arsenal, Nicolas Pepe still hasn’t justified his transfer price. In an interview with Colinterviw, the former Les Dogues man blamed his difficult years on the language barrier and high pressure.
“When you arrive at a club without speaking a word of English, you feel a certain pressure… The coach doesn’t speak French, and I wondered how I was going to cope. Honestly, from my first training sessions at Arsenal, I felt lost. It was the same during the matches, I didn’t understand much either. I listened to the game plan, but I didn’t understand anything. I still tried to give it my best shot, but I was told I was a flop,”He complained.
If he still does not seem to be back on track, he is likely to be dropped by the Gunners, who are coming off a fine season and whose future looks bright. Nicolas Pepe, who has a contract with the English club, will be discussing his situation with his managers.
“I was loaned out without an option to buy. So now I’m going back to Arsenal. I don’t yet know what the future holds. I’ll talk to the coach and the other people involved, and then we’ll make a decision,”He said when he confirmed his departure from OGC Nice.
A departure on the horizon
At a time when the Ivorian striker is suffering from a string of poor performances, his club is in the process of getting its head above water.Arsenal are on a roll and Nicolas Pepe’s time seems to be over. According to Calciomercato, the Londoners are already looking for a striker. Pepe is tied to the club until 2024 but is no longer part of Mikel Artéta’s plans. The Spanish coach is currently in a mad dash to strengthen his squad in order to be more competitive. Kaï Havertz has already signed and Declan Rice should be announced shortly.
Other profiles could also be brought in, particularly in the Ivorian’s position. Bukayo Saka is the only player in the side. A replacement should arrive. In fact, his number (19) has already been allocated to Leandro Trossard, who arrived in January. Back at Arsenal after the holidays, Nicolas Pepe is now training with the team. There is no way out as yet, although he is still highly rated. Also worth watching is his pre-season with Arsenal.