Why Arsenal should not rush into selling Nicolas Pepe
According to Spanish outlet TF (h/t Football.london), Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta wants to sell Nicolas Pepe. The forward has come under intense scrutiny in recent games due to bad form and a sending off against Leeds United. AC Milan are said to hold serious interest in Pepe with a loan-to-buy offer being planned.
The 25-year-old Ivorian started out as a goalkeeper for FC Solitaires and only moved to the outfield after moving to Poitiers. He spent most of his youth career there before moving to Angers in 2013 where his professional career started.
After spending two years in the ‘B’ side, he was promoted to the senior side. However, he was immediately sent on loan to US Orleans for a season. He went on to make 30 appearances for them during the season and contributed to 9 goals. On his return, he got a chance to play for the Angers senior side but he would only stay for one season before moving to LOSC Lille.
It was at Lille that Pepe rose to prominence, plundering 37 goals and 17 assists in 79 appearances. His performances attracted the attention of Arsenal who signed him for a club-record £72m fee. While he has shown occasional moments of brilliance, he has largely failed to impress on most outings. Pepe is a full international for Ivory Coast with 24 appearances and 5 goals.
Why Arsenal and Arteta must show patience with Pepe
Arsenal have been largely underwhelming this season as their stats in the league would say. Scoring a paltry 9 goals in 9 games isn’t exactly what one would want from the club. The forward line has looked horribly off-colour and the midfield hasn’t done anything to support them.
The problem has also affected Pepe but the thing is, he has not been afforded a sustained run of games to get back his confidence and goalscoring form. Out of 9 games in the league, he has played just 278 minutes. Whenever he has been given the chance in the Europa League, he has delivered, with 2 goals and 2 assists in 3 games.
Yes, the headbutting incident isn’t what you expect from a professional at this level but it could well be a one-off incident. He was involved in a tussle with Alioski in the game earlier and it was at the second instance that Pepe reacted with a headbutt. The referee took one look via VAR and sent him off.
Mikel Arteta felt that he let the team down and it was unacceptable. Yes, things are now still hot and everyone is brandishing their opinion, with Pepe getting stick from all corners. The club needs to talk things out with the player in this situation and not take any rash decision such as moving him on from the club.
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They need to make sure this sort of incident does not happen again and discipline the player. Pepe is a very talented player that Arsenal paid over the odds for. He deserves another chance to prove himself.