It was maybe surprising that Nicholas Pepe was not one of the departures from Arsenal in January considering he has only made 5 starts this season, and his only appearance since October was in the League Cup game against Sunderland (in which he scored one of our goals).
Considering how much we had paid for him and how well he had played in the second half of last season, it was a bit mystifying why he couldn’t get more time when our youngsters like Saka and Martinelli needed a well-earned rest.
In December Mikel Arteta admitted that it might not be easy to persuade the Ivorian that his future lay at the Emirates. Arteta said in the Mirror: “With the way he’s training and performing he deserves more minutes regardless of what happens with any other player,[Aubameyang].
“We are trying really hard [to keep him],”
“[His] contract has an expiry date and you can’t control that. His genuine intention is that he wants to play football and that’s what’s driving whatever decision he’s going to take.
“But he’s obviously a player we want to keep and we will continue to do our best to keep him.”
So we now know that Pepe is part of Arteta’s much-reduced squad for the rest of the season, and after playing in 5 games at AFCON (and scoring in 2 of the 3 games that he was a starter) he is in fit and in fine form.
But it remains to be seen whether Arteta will give him any game time while the rest of our forwards are fit, but if he doesn’t I’m certain that the talented Frenchman will be moving on next summer…..