Alan Smith has warned Nicolas Pepe that he will have to shape up or he will get shipped out of Arsenal eventually after the Gunners landed Willian.
Pepe joined Arsenal for a record fee last summer and he was expected to become a club star after he impressed in France for Lille.
However, the Ivorian has since struggled to make an impression in his first campaign at the Emirates.
He remains an important part of the setup at Arsenal and just like most of his teammates, he began to do better under Mikel Arteta before the season ended.
The Gunners have now signed Willian in a move that might threaten Pepe’s role in the team and he has been warned that he will need to do better if he wants to remain in the team.
Smith admits that it is now time for the Gunners to make some progress in their rebuilding efforts and claimed that he was surprised at the club signing Willian initially.
Smith told Sky Sports: ‘It is time to move the project forward by adding quality in certain positions, which is not easy at all when money is tight.
‘Willian’s free transfer from Chelsea looks like the first step, which surprised me at first given the Brazilian’s age.
‘Just turned 32 with lots of miles on the clock, Stamford Bridge has surely seen his best days.
‘So was this just a convenient move because he has the right agent? Something foisted upon Arteta by Raul Sanllehi, the head of football?
‘Or does Arteta see something in Willian that can improve the team straight away?
‘One thing is for sure, as a right-sided attacker, his arrival asks immediate questions of Nicolas Pepe, signed at exorbitant cost this time last year.
‘The Ivory Coast winger has blown hot and cold so far, which is not a great quality in Arteta’s book.
‘Undoubtedly talented, Pepe has got to kick on if he’s going to survive because, in the short term at least, Willian can provide great know-how and quality on that right side.’