Paul Merson insists that he doesn’t buy into claims that Nicolas Pepe is suddenly going to burst into form for Arsenal, and that they would be lucky to receive £30 Million for him in the coming window.
The Ivory Coast international did have an impressive AFCON tournament last month, and it was reported that he had returned with a newfound confidence, and he may have given fans further reason to believe that he could play a role in our push for the top four when coming off the bench last week to combine with Eddie Nketiah to level the scoring against Wolves, a match we later went onto win.
Paul Merson isn’t holding out any hope of a big resurgence from the former Lille forward however, and claims that we would jump at the chance to sell him.
‘Don’t expect Nicolas Pepe to suddenly become an Arsenal legend – he’s a £72m sub they’d bite your hand off to get rid of,” he wrote in his column at the DailyStar.
‘But even though he came on and won them the game against Wolves last week, you’d be lucky to get £30m for him now.
‘We’ve seen it too many times where he comes on and looks amazing and then he disappears again for weeks.
‘It’s all about consistency and he’s never been able to find it. He hasn’t put it together enough for me.
‘I don’t buy into the theory that he’s suddenly going to rip it up for the rest of the season. No chance.
‘He is a classic example of modern-day football. Arsenal have a £72m player who, let’s be honest, has flopped. And nothing is said about it!
‘It’s unbelievable really. A few years ago, if you’d bought a player for that much money and he was sitting on the bench all season, you’d be sacked.
‘I know Mikel Arteta didn’t buy him. And Unai Emery is long gone. But you get the point. And Arteta isn’t getting a tune out of him either.
‘If he was that good Arteta would be playing him. He just isn’t a £72m player.
‘I think Arsenal will be hoping he carries it on for the rest of the season and they might get £30m for him.
‘But at the moment I don’t even see anyone paying that.
‘We all know they wanted Wilfried Zaha instead. I think he’s an amazing player. But they tried to save a few quid by getting someone a bit less expensive and it hasn’t worked out.
‘If Pepe finds a bit of consistency now and helps them get in the top four, he’s paid a bit of his money back and they might be able to sell him.
‘But will he? That’s the big question. They might be stuck with him.’
While I don’t disagree that we should happily sell for around the £30 Million mark, I do believe he could be set to hit form. Not just because of the comments on his returning confidence, but in the two full seasons with the club, it was in the Spring-Summer time that he found his best performance. He could well be one of those players.
Could Pepe just come to life this time of year?
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