Nicolas Pepe has not yet justified his huge fee, will he ever?

Does Nicolas Pepe have the potential to perform better than he is currently doing?

Nicolas Pepe did some amazing things as a winger for Lille last season, the Ivorian scored 22 goals and provided 11 assists for the French side and helped them qualify for the Champions League.

From his performance last season, we can say that he earned his big-money move to Arsenal.

The Gunners agreed to a record fee for Pepe over the summer, but the winger hasn’t quite shown if he is worth that money.

Pepe has shown his brilliance in flashes for Arsenal this season in some games, most notably coming off the bench to score two free-kicks against Vitoria Guimaraes in the Europa League.

However, those performances have been hard to come by and it is hard to think that Pepe has it in him to ever be a consistent performer.

In May, he will be 25 years, but I believe that Pepe doesn’t have much more to offer as a footballer.

When I watch him play, I see a player that is limited in so many ways, his off the ball work is poor, his first touch is poor, his final delivery from the wing can be so frustrating much of the time.

I expect Mikel Arteta to get the best out of Pepe over time, but I also strongly believe that his best will never be too far from what we’re seeing now.

I suspect this will not be a popular opinion but Pepe has had enough opportunities to show far more consistency and he has been found wanting. You expect far more bang for your buck when you splash out in excess of £70 Million and it just feels to me that too many excuses are being made.

An article from Ime


  1. Bonkers article for so many reasons. I can hardly bring myself to respond with details so I’ll be brief
    1. New country/language/culture
    2. Different League
    3. Moved to Team in transition
    4. Worked under a manager who’s style of play was to move the ball incredibly slowly up the pitch(made it impossible for Pepe to find space or use pace)

    if he keeps getting played he will gain confidence. The ball being moved quicker under Arteta is already helping but more needs to happen. Intricate patterns of play/positional sense needs to be developed to create natural entry points for ALL our attacking players to gain the upper hand High up the pitch.
    Sometimes wonder if people understand what they are watching to be honest.

    1. When I see Pepe, all I see is a talented that needs to:
      – play more
      – get confident and conviction in his abilities
      – Bulk up
      – be bold and ruthless
      and rest, will be history. Laca’s first season was similar, he went to ground after every tackle, but now he’s a beast, though he needs to regain his scoring instincts.

  2. Nice article admin.
    Keep em coming.
    In February 1979 Trevor Francis was signed for the sensational fee of 1 million 🙂
    Top players are paid that in a month now.
    Every summer Arsenal like other big clubs seems obligated to make one high priced
    marquee signing no matter the cost to keep fans happy.
    2019 Pepe 70m. 5 times the 14m Cazorla cost in 2012!!!
    2018. Auba. 60m because of the Sanchez debacle.
    2017 Lacazette. 50m
    2016 Xhaka 34m
    2014 Sanchez 36m
    2013 Ozil 43m (seems cheap now).
    2012 Giroud 10m Monreal 10m Cazorla 15m All seem so cheap today.
    Mind you Arsenal have sold some players for good coin too.
    Walcott 30m Giroud 30m Chamberlain and Iwobi both 40m seem to be money for jam.
    At least we did not pay 110m for Dembele and 140m for Coutinho like Barca.
    This inflationary trend means one day the club will pay 100m for some one
    and call it a bargain 🙂

  3. Pepe has huge talent he just needs guidance and to get used to playing prem football. He has massive ability it just needs channeling.

  4. He just lazy as oziel and dont have determination
    Look at his skinny body and his lazy face
    What a waste of money
    Right now, i gladly take back iwobi to replace him

  5. Agree with a lot of the article. Pepe is frustrating . He has incredible speed and has shown his ability to take free kicks and score. However he loses the ball too often in good areas of the field and has not influenced games nor dominated the attack as much as I had hoped. Whether he will or not I’m not sure. I hope he does. Ozil is my main concern . He does the occasional good touch and through ball and that’s it !! The team are still carrying him .

  6. Pepe’s only possible long-term problem is that he seems to lack footballing intelligence – not as badly as say Walcott, but perhaps like, say, Oxlade.
    But just like Oxlade’s has improved under Klopp I predict Arteta is the man to improve Pepe, but it will take at least 6 months, perhaps 1 year. For a long-term investment that’s not so bad.

  7. Other than maybe Aaubameyang and Bernd Leno,theres no other senior arsenal player that has pulled out to their potential this season.Thats the kind of environment Pepe found,and you expect him to flourish.Even with that,he has like 5 goals and 4 assists.And i like it when we have a corner kick and he is the one standing over it.He puts better calculated weight to his corner kicks than any other arsenal player.

  8. I personally believe that his rate was inflated but the fact that we got him on a 5 year payment plan makes it a bit easier to swallow.

    If you look at those 22 goals, a big chunk was penalties and most of the rest was him cutting in on his left foot from the right (Like the goal that he scored against United). From what I understand, when they experimented with him as a 9 it didn’t go very well.

    He is not our primary penalty taker and any defender worth his salt would not let him cut in on his left. Therefore 22 goals was never going to be in his stars especially when you consider that the French league isn’t at the PL level either.

    At the moment it looks like his feet are disconnected from his brain, he is all over the place and he goes down and stays down way too easily for my liking.

    The fact that Emery, Ljungberg and initially Arteta did not warm to him in the beginning also suggests that there might be an attitude issue as well.

    There is no doubt that the raw talent is there but he has a lot of learning to do. Hopefully Arteta will mould him into one of the best wings in the league and that is certainly a possibility if his decision making improves.

    Despite his current level of performance, I think that defenders hate defending against him because they have no idea what he is going as he is capable of doing just about anything, at this stage the problem is that Pepe doesn’t know what he is going to do either.

  9. The most relevant comparison for me is with Zaha. He was our first choice and would have cost us more than Pepe. Pepe is 3 years younger than Zaha.

    Palace is currently above us on the log, Pepe has played 3 less games than Zaha (Pepe also came off the bench many times) and currently Zaha only has one more assist than Pepe and the same amount of goals.

    Should Pepe end up with more goals and assists than Zaha this season when compared to a more experienced player in terms of age and PL exposure then Pepe gets a pass mark from me, especially as this is his first season and one riddled with turmoil.

  10. Messi would struggle in our team. Our defence are scared, slow and poor and our midfield are creatively challenged and we have players like Xhaka, Luiz, and others who are always too slow to react. Until we get a team how is Pepe going to be a Mahrez?

  11. By sticking a left footed player rigidly on the right wing makes life easier for defenders who know he will move inside onto his stronger foot .Pepe is an athlete who can blossom at Arsenal providing he is played as a conventional left winger .He reminds me of Sane of Man City who has pace to burn and the ability to cross on the run which causes real problems for defenders.He certainly needs to be given license to interchange with our other wide attacker to keep the opposition defence guessing.Overpriced at72m but in today’s transfer market aren’t they all?

  12. Wow just wow! Real negative energy there! Whoever wrote this slanderous article should cut Nico some slack, Pepe is massively talented and will be one of our best signings in recent times if given time to adapt under MA’s tutelage.This sounds like Henry 2.0, Henry was teased, called names by fickle fans in his first season, his confidence was shot to bits but he soldiered on. Pepe is a work in progress I’m sure MA will work on his decision making, and scoring just like he did with Sterling, Jesus and Sane and then boom! all you critics will join the Pepe bandwagon! I for one will keep making ‘too many excuses’ you alluded to ’cause I see a lethal forward in Pepe.

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