Will Nicolas Pepe Be Worth It In The End? by AI
Arsenal purportedly have a transfer philosophy of buying young players with plenty of ability to increase their market value with time. All of Tierney, Torreira, Guendouzi, Saliba, Martinelli, and even Bernd Leno, Mustafi and even Xhaka can be said to be following that philosophy to a lesser extent. These players were all bought before their prime and apart from a few bad eggs, each one of them has increased their market value from what they were originally bought for. It is in the context of this situation that Nicolas Pepe and his 72 million euros price tag must be considered.
Pepe is an extraordinary player. Anyone who can get a 30+ goal contribution statistic in one season of any European Top 5 league is extraordinary. And to do it at 24 years in a team which is not the strongest in the league makes it even more impressive. Such extraordinary talents carry different price tags and they come with a different set of rules. And that’s the burden of our boy.
Nicolas Pepe is expected to do it all, to shimmy shammy, cut inside and curl it inside the top corner every other game. He’s expected to reach a minimum of at least 20 goal contributions in his first season. He has to be absolutely unplayable one-on-one, lay defenders on their asses, score multiple freekick goals in one game, and attract the attention of an entire defense. That is the least that is expected of a 72 million euro super-signing in his first year, even if he’s at the most dysfunctional Arsenal squad in recent history.
Here are the facts: Nicolas Pepe, barring an unfortunate injury, is on course to hit 10 goals and 10 assists in his very first season at Arsenal. In fact, he should hit 25 G/A if his new-year form should continue. And according to Whoscored, he’s currently the most dangerous attacker in the Premier League.
God knows how many defenders can match Nicolas Pepe one-on-one on the planet currently. Van Dijk and Andy Robertson are certainly not among that exclusive list, even as both the best individuals in their positions.
The casualty list of defenders Nicolas Pepe has absolutely rinsed and laid out to dry on the turf is better not mentioned. We are talking about a player who can come into a game when his team is losing 2-1 by the 70th minute, and score two fantastic freekicks to give them the win (a feat achieved only by illustrious talents like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez, Juninho among others), someone who is regularly marked with 2-3 players and has no problem getting past as though they were mere shadows.
And let’s not forget that the Ivorian has been able to do this in one of the worst Arsenal teams in recent memory, with little help from his fullback who usually tucks in and provides no support out wide. Give this man Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, and Santi Cazorla in their primes and watch him absolutely tear the league apart. That’s a stretch. Give Pepe a fully fit and overlapping Hector Bellerin, a proper midfield behind him and watch him fully show why he’s such an attacking sensation.
Nicolas Pepe is a supertalent trying his best in an Arsenal team that’s spent a majority of the season outside of the top 4. His impact, though already wonderful, has been muted by the crashing noise of the entire team this season. Next season, with a better team around him, we should see more of what this 72 million euro signing can do.