Nicolas Pepe has admitted that he is enduring a frustrating season as he struggles for consistent playing time at Arsenal this season.
The forward arrived for a club record £72 Million fee in the summer of 2019, but none of his three seasons thus far have been ideal. Pepe has shown glimpses of his ability, but he has failed to show enough consistency leading to others to forge ahead in the pecking order.
This term he finds himself behind all of Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli for the wide roles, limiting him to very few minutes off the bench, and Transfermarkt now has him valued as low as £27 Million at present.
The player spoke to the press this week (via The Sun) to assure that he was ‘focused’ on helping Arsenal to achieve their top-four target this term, but went onto admit that it has been a frustrating season and he cannot guarantee anything beyond the current campaign.
Nico said: “I am focused on how well we do until the end of the season and the club’s target, which is getting into the Champions League. Then we will see what happens.”
He added: “It is an honour to play for Ivory Coast. The most important thing is to enjoy your football. That is something I am able to do when I get the chance to play.
“It is happening at international level and a bit less so at club level. It is frustrating not to play. No player enjoys not playing but I have to respect the coach’s decision.
“When a team is winning it is hard for a coach to make changes. Mikel has explained that to me and I know I have to work hard in training to get more playing time.
“The coach knows what I think and how hard I am working. It is also about communication. Sometimes it is not easy to communicate with the language barrier.
“It has been a tough season for me.”
I don’t think anyone would begrudge Pepe an exit this summer, but questions will be asked if we are to sell him for a massive loss which will likely be the scenario. Pepe has started only five Premier League matches this term, with his latest coming in October 2021, and with just two years remaining on his current contract come the summer, we may well be forced into selling before his value plummets even further.
I feel as though he could help us push for a strong finish this season, but I don’t think anyone is expecting him to play ahead of Martinelli, Saka or Smith Rowe, and even with Champions League football next term, I just don’t believe it would make sense to keep him.
Can you see Pepe still being at the Emirates come September?