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Arsenal simply shouldn’t lose hope in their £72m record star and Arteta shouldn’t sell him

Arsenal's French-born Ivorian midfielder Nicolas Pepe leaves the pitch after being sent off after clashing with Leeds United's Macedonian midfielder Ezgjan Alioski during the English Premier League football match between Leeds United and Arsenal at Elland Road in Leeds, northern England on November 22, 2020. (Photo by MOLLY DARLINGTON / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by MOLLY DARLINGTON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

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.

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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.

Lille’s Ivorian forward Nicolas Pepe celebrates after scoring a goal during the French L1 football match between Lille (LOSC) and Angers (SCO) at the Pierre-Mauroy Stadium in Villeneuve d’Ascq, near Lille, northern France, on May 18 2019. (Photo credit: DENIS CHARLET/AFP via Getty Images)

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.

Arsenal’s French-born Ivorian midfielder Nicolas Pepe (L) is shown a red card by atch Referee Anthony Taylor (R) during the English Premier League football match between Leeds United and Arsenal at Elland Road in Leeds, northern England on November 22, 2020. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

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.

Written by Sourav Ghosh

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