Editorial

What is the future for Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe?

Nicolas Pepe has been considered one of Arsenal’s worst transfer signings of all time. The winger arrived at the Emirates for £72 million from Lille in August 2019 as Arsenal’s record transfer signing. Expected to make a major impact immediately, Pepe scored just five goals and tallied five assists in 31 league games totalling 2,021 minutes in the first season.

Although things got better for Pepe a season later, the 2021-22 campaign was Pepe’s worst as a professional football. It wasn’t just the winger’s worst season as an Arsenal player, it was his worst season in terms of production as a footballer in the professional ranks.

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Pepe played 20 times for Mikel Arteta’s side tallying one goal and two assists in the Premier League. He compiled 646 minutes in the top flight. Pepe averaged 32.3 minutes per match. He also tallied an xG of 3.45. Pepe did manage to exceed is xA of 1.33.

Now, with news that Arteta wants to sign a new winger, potentially Moussa Diaby from Bayer Leverkusen or Pedro Neto from Wolverhampton Wanderers, Pepe is surplus to requirements.

The Ivory Coast international didn’t make it off the bench for Premier League matchday No. 1 against Crystal Palace. Pepe was an unused substitute, which occurred 15 times last season in the Premier League.

Since arriving at the Emirates, Pepe has tallied 27 goals and tallied 21 assists in 112 games in all competitions for Arsenal. Pepe’s numbers aren’t terrible, but in each season at the Emirates, his minutes have decreased in the Premier League.

While Pepe’s goal numbers peaked two seasons ago at 10 in the Premier League, the player has not looked like the same player everyone saw at Lille.

Pepe’s high-mark in Ligue 1 came in 2018-19 with Les Dogues. He scored 22 goals and tallied 11 assists in 38 matches in Ligue 1. It was Pepe’s incredible goal return and assist numbers that influenced Arsenal to spend £72m on him.

The Ivorian winger is one of Arsenal’s highest-paid players. According to Spotrac, Pepe is Arsenal’s third highest wage earner. Pepe earns £140,000-per-week at Arsenal for an annual salary of £7,280,000. It is an enormous wage for a club that often claims it doesn’t have money to spend on new recruits. It is also a large wage for a player that isn’t regularly in the team’s starting XI.

If Pepe is to be sold, where would he end up? His wages are too high for many teams to take on, especially when a transfer fee is added into the equation. Pepe is currently valued at around £25m, a fee many clubs would shy away from based on his poor form at the Emirates.

The forward is under contract at Arsenal until 2024. He has two seasons left on a current deal that is unlikely to see Arsenal extend the contract. Arsenal are considering cutting ties with the former record signing. With a new winger likely on the way, Pepe’s chances of playing under Pepe are growing slimmer by the day.

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