Arsenal Debate – Is Nicholas Pepe finally showing us his worth?

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.

Agboola Israel

44 Comments

  1. Top Gunner says:

    No. Pepe doesn’t challenge defenders enough

    1. Malcolm Townsend says:

      not worth 72 million at the moment if he was on the transfer list now we would be very lucky to get our money back

      1. Siamois says:

        No,but I remember Pic saying that it takes a new player in a new country 18 months on average until you see him play week in week out as his real level,many examples to back it up,Lo Cielo where was he last season,at first Sissoko struggled couldn’t get in the team and many more,the same will happen with Pepe,MA shows videos and works with him on the training ground.

        1. Siamois says:

          *Poch

    2. Chris Stark says:

      Totally agree, it’s a lot of dough for a glorified attacking midfielder.

  2. GB says:

    I question you again Agboola, who is on this list of defenders that “Pepe has rinsed and laid out to dry”? And what has scoring two (admittedly wonderful free kicks) got to do with beating defenders one on one?

  3. Kedar says:

    No…. Liverpool Paid 36 Mn for Salah…
    Exactly half of which we have paid for Pépé…
    Pépé is not even half way of Salah

  4. McLovin says:

    Pepe was never worth 72m. We were mugs enough to pay it.

    However, despite his struggles, it’s not like rest of the team are free-scoring. We are one of the worst teams in the league in terms of creating chances. Our 2nd best scorer after Auba is Martinelli with 10 goals. This tells us we are not scoring enough, and you can’t score without creating chances.

    A lot of is on Özil’s shoulders, and overall he’s been really bad this season. And rest of our midfielders are too defensive-minded (Torreira, Guendouzi, Xhaka). All 3 together mass up to 5 assists and 2 goals scored! That’s terrible!

    1. Robert Acedius says:

      But Xhaka did what he could against Hammers. After two minutes he delivered a first class pass for a goal, but the XXX Leno saved the shot. It’s a shame. Efter twenty minutes he tried again… Good old Grannie!

  5. Grandad says:

    While Pepe has a lot of the skills and inane talent to become a great player,he needs to learn how to play when he does not have the ball.The challenge for Arteta is to improve his defensive contributions and to make him aware that sometimes, indeed invariably, the simple pass and move tactic is the best option.I have said this on numerous occasions but he must be used on the left flank or at least interchange with the others in our front three.Stuck out on the right wing he becomes so predictable.

    1. Za mind says:

      Exactly, the guy makes the right in the team look horrible as Pepe offers no help. Poor at any high ball aimed at him as he will stand behind the opposing defender and do absolutely nothing. When he looses the ball after excessive dribbling, he will never run back to help atone for his mistake, he can be better he improved his all round play.

  6. Goonerboy says:

    Reading this made me feel like I have not been watching Arsenal/Pepe, the exaggeration is way over the top for me.

    I want to believe he will come good but his output so far is what you expect from the likes of Nelson, Martinelli, Nketiah not a 72 million signing.
    His overall play is immature and mostly one-dimensional, I expect more from a left footed right winger as you see with Mahrez, Bernado Silva, Robben.

    Put Saka there and I assure you he will do far better at least in terms of end product, Pepe has a very long way to go as he does not even look fit enough imo….rants over

    1. Za mind says:

      Pepe at 72m$ was a rip off

  7. GunneRay says:

    I wonder if Agboola has had a “back-hander” from Pepe himself?!

    To date, I would say Pepe has been less than average but is starting to better skills at least. I can understand how many football players come to the EPL and struggle to adapt. It takes some a full season and other a few months. I will assume for now that Pepe needs the longer term but, by god he had better show us his worth next year or he may well go down as another “howler” of a purchase in Arsenal’s history?!

  8. IVAN WALKER says:

    Have seen him several times go one on one and failin to score, pepe never deserved #£72. He got no magic change…

  9. Mohsan says:

    He has good feet, can carry the ball n few of those players who can dribble so skill wise he has the right ingredients. But then you come to footballing brain n understanding of the game…I am afraid he is right at the bottom of barrel with regards to other players at club. He hugs de ball too long, slows up all our play, not only frustrates fans but I have now noticed that even the strikers he plays with are frustrated because they make runs n get into position but ball never arrives so now they just kind of give up when he gets the ball. Does not know that dibbling is performed to achieve some sort of result not other way around where your result is dribbling. honestly he should learn from young lad Saka…look at him, he knows when to hold the ball, when to pass it and why I have to dribble. Players break their neck to get into box when Saka has the ball as compared to no one makes any sort of effort when Pepe has it.

  10. Pat says:

    No, he hasn’t done much for us, and I’d prefer Zaha any day any time. He is a miss buy.

    1. Rory johnson says:

      Zaha hasn’t exactly done much this season to be fair. 3 goals and assists in like 30 games

  11. JW says:

    Yes, He has finally shown us he is worthless!!!

  12. jon fox says:

    I WAS READING THIS FANTASY ARTICLE ABOUT THE AUTHORS HERO AND WONDERING WHAT PLANET HE IS ON! The Pepe that Agboola describes is not remotely the one I have watched this season. Must be two with the same name I have to conclude.

  13. jon fox says:

    “His impact, though already wonderful….” ??? What is this Agboola fantasy writer smoking? Not a single other post so far remotely thinks as Agboola does and most question Pepes worth and ability. Why does this site allow fantasy articles from maverick writers to spew complete nonsense ? Serious question too! Do we want a site about arrant, fantasy, hero worshipping nonsense or a site for serious debate? We cannot be both!

  14. Top Gunner says:

    Pepe is predictable. He plays one dimensional football. Zaha at £80mil would have been a better buy

    1. Phil says:

      TG- Zaha was far too overpriced at £80m as we all knew. But compared to Pepe at £72m he would have been a bargain.
      I still believe there is a player in Pepe, but at that price he just hasn’t provided what he should do.
      He is going nowhere quickly, so we can only trust MA to get his game up to the standard and consistency needed, which it clearly isn’t at the moment.
      What I do feel is that when either Bellerin of Soures are fit, they will offer Pepe an outlet on the right which he has not had this season.
      The small tactical change on the left that sees Xhaka covering Saka as he goes forward has allowed us to use the youngster as an attacking outlet, and in fairness to Xhaka he has remained disciplined to make this work.MA will need a similar adjustment to help Pepe but still keeping us tighter. Trust Arteta, he knows what he is doing.

      1. Sarmmie says:

        After all the harsh critical comments, I finally smiled, Thank you, Innit

        Maybe he’s not as good as Agoola has painted him, he’s not as bad as people are describing him either. And yes, this guy is only going to get better

    2. Reggie says:

      Have you watched him for palace recently, i wouldn’t give them 8 mil, totally over rated. Pepe all day for me.

    3. zTOM says:

      Pepe has been superior to Zaha in basically all metrics and doing so in his first season when all players struggle? In an Arsenal team that was imploding too!!!
      He’s younger so naturally has superior resale value and we’re only paying 20m a year towards his overall fee. That’s a steal.
      Let’s both give Arteta and Pepe their time to find their proper stride. 🙂

  15. Innit says:

    Yes absolutely. He had a rough start but he’s doing a lot better now. Fantastic player

    Worth every penny. And he will only improve

    💕Pepe

    1. Sarmmie says:

      After all the harsh critical comments, I finally smiled, Thank you, Innit

      Maybe he’s not as good as Agoola has painted him, he’s not as bad as people are describing him either. And yes, this guy is only going to get better.

      And then, the amount that another team paid for their own player isn’t a yardstick to judge your own player cos there will always be a lot of twists to this type of comparison.

  16. Knight says:

    Everyone who is bashing Pepe seems to tag the reason to the amount that was paid for him.But you forget how the market was at that point.The alternative was Saha,they needed 80Million,paid in cash.Pepe who had better statistics was 72Million spread over 4years.Say,18Million each season.Now look at this,18Million this season has already given 6 goals and 6 assists.and i can bet h will make double figures.Compare that to Ceballos for whom we paid 15Million for one season.So before bringing the price to the fore,think about other options that we had.Personally,i dont think Saha is any close to the talent and capability of Pepe.He knows how to put a good amount of weight to his crosses when he does cross

    1. Phil says:

      Good point this-you are right. At the time Palace were demanding £80m cash and there are not too meant clubs that could do this, which Palace obviously knew.

    2. jon fox says:

      Strictly speaking, “the alternative was not Zaha” but a number of players we needed more than a winger, almost all of them PROPER defenders and esp CB.s , I’d suggest. Pepe has so far been a poor buy with little in return for his fee and his wages. He MAY prove me wrong but I doubt his true commitment and as I repeatedly post, NO player is ANY use without TOTAL commitment. Fact!

      1. ozziegunner says:

        👍

  17. Gily says:

    I hear his payment is instalment based. He is worth every penny that has already been paid for him and much more.
    He is much better than Zaha who is just a wrestler imo (not suited for Arsenal football).
    Pepe is good, and will become much better soonest.

    1. jon fox says:

      Zaha a wrestler? Are you not mixing him up with Sokratis, who really IS a wrestler?

      1. Gily says:

        Socrates is a weak wrestler, Zaha is the real deal. His pattern of play is jagged, not smooth at all.

        1. jon fox says:

          Just don’t understand how you can think Zaha wrestles. He is constantly fouled but that is against him and his opponents are the ones who wrestle him, NOT he himself. An odd comment for sure !

          1. Gily says:

            Maybe we can just agree to disagree. I did mention it’s my opinion of the way I see him play earlier.

  18. Marty says:

    For £72 million I would expect a player to be ready to play in any league from the start not have to get used to a new league. This may be a bit harsh but I just don’t think he has done enough to justify a big fee like that.

    1. Sue says:

      👍👍

  19. Denton says:

    This lad is a park player at best. Don’t know what he’s been doing in his formative years growing up as a player because he’s learned nothing about the game. Wonderful tricks yes but I’ve seen street entertainers do as much. They’re not footballers either. And lastly how is possible to get a professional contract with a top club in probably the best league in world when one foot is only any good for standing on. Arsenal need to have some closed training sessions with him where he is only allowed to use his RIGHT FOOT. .. OR play him on the left.

  20. Ashley Martin says:

    Is the op on crack ? 72 million is an absolute disgrace for this player, its a complete joke – Ronaldo cost Juventus 90 million – doesnt take him 18 months to adapt

    1. zTOM says:

      20M a season is peanuts for such young player (just a few millions more that Ceballos’s loan fee), especially when considering his eventual resale fee.
      Ronaldo is one of the best footballer in history AND arrived in a team that dominated its league for years before he arrived.
      Nothing to compare here…

  21. kenno says:

    Pepe might not even become what we expect of him. A footballing brain is his demise, making key decisions when going forward, scoring and crossing when it is the right moment to do so. And to do this he will have to adjust to many things on the training field including how to use his right foot like Van Perse was doing.

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