With Saka in form, what does Arsenal do with Nicholas Pepe?

Is this the End of the Road for Nicolas Pepe by AI

Nicolas Pepe is a very talented player. He is a good athlete, good dribbler with quick feet and a great ball-striking technique. He can be someone who takes the next step into being a great footballer. The base quality is there. However, at the moment for him, it’s just that.

Pepe has mentality issues. He doesn’t always know what to do in the final third, especially against a massed defence. Hesitation has creeped into his game and for someone who relies less on clarity and more on instinct, it’s disastrous. The way he is asked to play for Arsenal, he needs clarity and maturity. Neither of which he has. He is too reliant on his left foot and lacks body coordination when trying to go past his man. The Ivorian does not have the intensity and the constant presence of mind to play for a title-challenging side. Defensively, he is definitely a coachable prospect.

His best moments for Arsenal have come from moments of instinct and in transition. There is the run against Leeds where he just supercharges into the central zone from the far wing. His flick into the box for Lacazette’s equalizer in a North London Derby. Two stunning free kicks in the same game for Arsenal in the Europa League. His run, shimmy and shoot to break the deadlock against Sheffield United. His assist for Aubameyang in the FA Cup final. He looks best when there’s space for him to run into, when he’s involved in the penalty box and when he’s asked to make an instinctive play.

All of these make Nicolas Pepe an extremely coachable talent. He can gain clarity against massed defences, up his intensity and defend better. He’s just 25 years old and in his second season. All of this isn’t a problem until you consider the fact that he is a 72 million pound investment.

Nicolas Pepe is no more than an exciting talent with a great ceiling who was bought to make a superstar impact. Add the fact that he seems to be a slow learner and the pressure to produce at a malfunctioning Arsenal and you can see the problem.

Bukayo Saka looks like the opposite of Nicolas Pepe. He is a talent with so much that is refined about his game and seems to have a wand of a left foot. His instincts are also on par with Nicolas Pepe as evidenced by his goal against West Brom. He is an extremely intelligent and talented young man who is just only 19 years old. And now he plays in Nicolas Pepe’s spot.

Arsenal must ask themselves if they want to continue with a 72 million coaching project. Or if they should take a big loss on a player who could end up justifying the price tag at some other team.

Whichever option makes the recruitment look really bad. Arsenal must investigate what was wrong and learn from it. Luckily, Saka is there to save their blushes.

Agboola Israel

Tags Pepe Saka

69 Comments

  1. Okobino says:

    The bin

    1. Innit says:

      With all due respect, There is a difference between genuine criticism and being very insulting.

      You could have just said that he hasn’t been good enough and should be transferred. Not “the bin”

      Real Arsenal fans or fans of any club don’t insult players who wear their clubs jerseys

  2. benex says:

    He’s a fraud, we should show him the door exactly how we did to Raul

    1. Innit says:

      He hasn’t committed FRAUD

      I don’t think you understand what Fraud means.

      He didn’t intentionally mislead us. The higher ups looked at his performances and decided to get him. He decided to come. It’s as simple as that

      Yes he’s failed at arsenal and should be sold but he is far from committing fraud

      1. ozziegunner says:

        Innit, I agree with your approach to Pepe, but I don’t believe we can write him off yet, given that the whole team has been underperforming.
        With the improving performances, better results and greater confidence, there is nothing to say that Pepe will not reach his full potential.

  3. Kedar says:

    Sell him at whatever price we would receive and if anyone is not buying then send him on loan to any Championship Side

    1. Mark says:

      Or back to the French League where he belongs..

    2. zamind says:

      Me thinks Pepe does not commit and take risky play because he is afraid of tackles and wants to stay injury free like Ozil. But at what cost to the club. EPL is a rough league.

  4. Shortboygooner says:

    I think pepe has the quality to become a great. Its up to arteta to coach him.

    Im intruiged to see how pepe will play with ESR in the middle.

    Willian is the real fraud

    1. Mark says:

      Up to Arteta to coach a 72M dollar player..seriously.. and suddenly ESR is the one to make him come good.. typical fanboy comment

      1. Shortboygooner says:

        Mark if a player is scoring 20,+ goals one minute then not performing the next it can be a number of reasons

        1. The prem is too much
        2. The formation is not suited
        3. His form was temporary
        4. He is nkt happy
        5. The tactics

        Now I’m not sure which one it is but considering the whole team has been poor until the last 3 games. Your joking and a “arteta fan boy,” if you want to condem pepe. We have seen flashes of brilliance from pepe who is still young.

        I genuinely beleive he is cochabamba like the article said. He reminds me of sterling who at Liverpool done alot of correct things but didn’t have the finish and upped his game under pep at City.

        The difference.with pepe and willian is one is at the start/peak and the other is at the end no longer coachable

  5. Kwendo says:

    Too harsh on Pepe

  6. Pijuri says:

    I think Arteta should coach him more to be like Leroy Sane. He scored many goals and provided very many more assists for Man City. He played as a LW because he was so brilliant with his left foot. He(Sane) and Pepe are similar.. Giving up on Pepe will be criminal if you ask me🤔. If he is uncoachable in the LW position then it will be time to call it a disaster but until then don’t give up on Pepe. He also needs a run of games to give him confidence. Be it substitute appearances or League starts. I hope this message reaches to Arteta 😁😁😉

  7. jon fox says:

    Agboola, As I have said countless times, talent alone , without fierce and steely determinatioin to make it count and be effective for the team, is just not and never will be enough. There are countles examples of this throughout football history with us and all other clubs.
    Pepe just does NOT posses the personal pride and character, will to show ’em, and moral fortitude that such as Tierney and Saka have in droves. That is obvious after all this time watching him stand away from the play instead of trying wholeheartedly, as the likes of MARTINELLI , a gutsy and brave man does.
    We can all see it but it depends on whether or not you have the clear sightedness to admit it to yourself and tell others what is plain to all. Some see it, some never will, as they simply do not want to. They are not honest, even with themselves.

    Just as with Ozil . TO ME HIS SHEER IDLENESS AND LACK OF GUTS AND WILL TO WIN IS BLINDINGLY CLEAR. But some will never admit it , not even to themselves and still post as if he was the man who helped win the WC some 6 years ago.

    Why some fans but not others insist in living in the fantasy world of the long ago past, I have no idea. But I see it happening as do all perceptive fans.
    BACK TO PEPE , I AM AFRAID WE BOUGHT A WRONG UN, ALBEIT WITH TALENT BUT NO HEART AND NO PERSONAL PRIDE. He is now an expensive albatross around our neck and, like many others, the financial waste spent on buying him and paying him is holding back our recovery.

    We MUST do all we can to try selling him this year and recoup a portion of the wasted £72 and then learn our expensive lesson.

    1. Tk says:

      Very well said exactly what I think of lazy Ozil and even lazier Pepe.

    2. Phil says:

      So Captain Mainwaring.Tin Hat on and sat in your bunker after hiding from a question I put yesterday to you, but that’s you A big gob with nothing to actually say.
      So Foxy, just answer this. You have continually mentioned workrate as the only thing you see in a player first and foremost. George Armstrong, a player you have lauded in the past, had a far worst assist and goal scored record for Arsenal than Theo Walcott. Remember him Captain? Weedy Walcott you labelled him. Yet Theo had a very good assist and goals scored account at the Club. I believe in what the player brings to the team. You seem to get off watching players breaking sweat. There’s more to football than that Captain. You don’t even go to games so your stuck in front of your tv but consider yourself a know it all when in my mind you actually know nothing.
      Big Gob. Nothing to actually say. Sums you up perfectly in my mind

    3. zamind says:

      What an accurate analysis Jon.
      I watch the same Pepe you do.

      He may do well in another league, not EPL.

    4. ozziegunner says:

      jon, I believe Pepe is very much a confidence player. He needs an arm around him, the support of Arteta and a run of games, where he is given directions as to how he is required to play. Too often he has been in and out of the team and given the playing time he has produced. I don’t agree that he has no heart and personal pride, but is young and needs support to overcome his current difficulties. It’s too early to give up on Pepe.

  8. guy says:

    Great article Agboola. You have put your finger on exactly the problem with Pepe. I would disagree only with you saying that he is coachable. 18 months of coaching have not helped.

    French football, in which his reputation was made, is not the EPL, and is much more forgiving of imperfections within a footballer’s skillset. Many unrefined jewels can be found there, but whether all of those jewels can be successfully exported and coached to improve is a lottery.

    EPL clubs are highly technically coached, and teams also learn how to exploit opposition players’ weaknesses. You need drive, determination, technical skills and tactical awareness to succeed.

    Pepe is an instinctive footballer with severe deficiencies in all of these. You coach these in you push the instinctive skills out. Either way you end up with an average footballer, no matter which EPL club he is at. He will always lollup around the pitch like Bambi, always be one-footed, always be easily dispossessed, always hesitate too long on the ball. Forgivable perhaps when you are 18-19, not at 25.

    Deep down we all know that by now. 18 months is a VERY long time in a footballer’s career. But we are hoping against hope ONLY because of the price tag. The money that we should never have spent has gone, let’s forget what he cost. Now ask yourself is he worth perservering with? I think we know the answer…

    1. Coach Mitch says:

      I second this opinion whole heartedly. A coach of a 70m pound 25 year old player does not expect to have to Coach that player. He should merely give him an opportunity to deliver on his price tag.
      Pepe lacks technical balance, tactical discipline and defensive work rate, all this has seen him fail to be consistantly effective, the fundamental requirement of any player on the field.

  9. gotanidea says:

    Pepe is faster and taller than Saka, but his parlor tricks are way inferior to Saka’s close control and Saka’s right foot is more adept. If Arsenal can’t sell him with a good price, they could convert him into an LW or attacking LB

    1. zamind says:

      LB? are you sure? Have you seen him defend?

      1. gotanidea says:

        I saw him hold the opponent off, win the ball aerially and intercept the opposition’s passes, but I haven’t seen his tackle yet

  10. JOE MAREGERE says:

    There’s nothing wrong with Pepe, the whole Arsenal project is misfiring at the moment. Don’t single out a few players when looking for a positive outcome.

    1. Ivy says:

      What !! Do you watch football!!

    2. zamind says:

      Joe, We are analysing one by one. There are other articles on Ozil, Auba, Laca, Saka, Tierney, Xhaka, Leno etc

  11. Gun Smoke says:

    Loan Nicolas Pepe to a next primer league side say like Brighton inserts a clause in the contract stating he plays 90% of the games once fit or £60.000 a match if he is not played and see how he develops from there, but some bold decisions need to be taken this month

    1. zamind says:

      Good Idea GS
      Let him get EPL experience and we see how it goes.

  12. Grandad says:

    A very harsh condemnation Joe of young players who have brought energy and enthusiasm to the Arsenal team recently .They are the “project” and they are not misfiring.As for Pepe, who was responsible for signing him and who sanctioned the deal?.Those involved in what will turn out to be a huge financial hit for our Club are the guys who need to face the music, if they have not already done so.Our recruitment during the past decade has been appalling particularly when you compare it with the likes of Leicester City , which is a good example of a very well run Club.

    1. ozziegunner says:

      👍

    2. zamind says:

      Reason,

      Bringing in non football minded CEOs, you know them. Soccer is not just a business like any other.
      You do not hire some Guy because he can count profits but does not know how to make the money. Soccer is part of entertainment industry and depends on talent.

  13. AUBA_14 says:

    He can still be a good sub.
    If someone gets injuried we can still need him.
    I think it’s sad for him that he wasn’t there in the last three matches but I’m sure he’ll perform when the team does so.
    Strange to see how things change so quickly. Two weeks ago people were begging Arteta to play him.
    Let’s give him a break for now

  14. Kigs says:

    PEPE lacks that fighting spirit. EPL is needs a direct player with quick decision making. If Pepe used his pace and stopped being predictable with his left foot, he can be a good player. He should be loaned to an EPL team where he can have enough playing time, so he can be monitored before the decision to sell him.

  15. Davi says:

    Seems quite clear he was very suited to a counter attacking play style at Lille and it’s not translated well at all to our pass it up the pitch approach. He’s always stuck out on the wing and despite being full of tricks has been very predictable.
    Why doesn’t he move inside more or make more runs off the defenders? It’s incredibly frustrating because I see a player there that could be a major weapon if we could find a way to get the most from him. Interested to see him tried in central positions and on the left to see how he does, especially in the new system.
    Don’t think he’s lazy, just don’t think he knows what to do – agree that’s something that should have been understood before we spent 72m on him.

    1. guy says:

      Agree Davi – he just seems confused. Not his fault, ours for buying hime, but he’s a lost cause because I don’t think he will ever have that “lightbulb moment”

  16. guy says:

    Auba, I don’t recall people begging Arteta to pick him. Even 2 weeks ago most were saying pick anyone except him or Willian!
    If Pepe had played then a) Saka would not have been RW and half of our goals wouldnt have been scored, and b) Bellerin would have had no protection so we would have conceded more.

    1. zamind says:

      Correct Guy.
      He makes Bellarin look horrible.
      I have been saying this.

  17. Jim wall says:

    Pepe has a lovely left foot,
    But his body language is all wrong for the premiership
    The French league is his level, in the next few weeks
    Martinelle will play on the left of a front 3 with either lacca or auba in the center and saka on the right with ESR at no 10, now he is not going to get in either of those positions,
    I’d say sell him for 20/30 million and reinvest…

    1. guy says:

      Id jump at 20-30 mil Jim. But we won’t get more than 10m max I reckon, so we will keep him, try to improve him for Summer.

      1. Davi says:

        I do think we could get 30m for him now because his Lille form is still fresh enough in people’s minds, but the longer it goes on like this the less we could get.
        Historically Arsenal has been awful at negotiating outgoing transfers, though…

        1. guy says:

          Unlike our record on incomings lol.

          1. Davi says:

            Yup 🤦

          2. ken1945 says:

            I think a lot of fans have forgotten one important thing, we haven’t actually paid for him yet!!!!
            Now, if I was Stanley Kronkie, I would be tearing my hair out over this record transfer deal.
            I would also want to know why the man responsible for this transfer, left the club while questions about this deal was being investigated.

            Let’s also remember that Pepe arrived at the club, during (probably), the most tumultuous time in decades.
            UE was under pressure, as has MA been and both men didn’t /haven’t given him the time and opportunity to improve under their tutorship.
            I cannot see kronkie sanctioning yet another transfer debacle, so I believe he will have to be part of the squad.
            Let MA work with him, not just cast him aside, simply because he has stumbled across a winning team – love you Mikel, but let’s see you working with our record signing.

        2. zamind says:

          sell back to Lille. We have not paid for him in full as he was on instalments.

  18. Weeble says:

    I think what the Pepster lacks is unfortunately intelligence. Very few really good professional players are not smart. I hope I am wrong. He maybe Arteta’s biggest coaching challenge.

    1. guy says:

      (I was trying not to say that Weeble!). I dont like to disrespect individuals so I will say football intelligence! lol

  19. Innit says:

    As long as he wears an Arsenal kit, I’ll support and be respectful to Peper

    But I urge Arteta to sell him. He is a nice lad but has failed here and is no where as good as as his price tag indicated

    Emery didn’t want Pepe. Emery wanted Zaha but the Board wanted Pepe

    I blame the board for interference.

    Let the manager manage. Let the manager decide who to get and who to transfer out. If you don’t trust him or herv get a manager you do trust

    1. ozziegunner says:

      👍

  20. RFrancis says:

    I thought our main responsibility as fans was to support the team. In this regard, this assessment of the player, especially at this pivotal point of the season, is very unfair and inappropriate. This is the time to get behind the players and the team in their fight to rescue the season. Three consecutive wins is a major achievement. Let’s celebrate our victories together and leave contentious evaluations for later.

    1. ozziegunner says:

      👍 Well said, RFrancis.

    2. zamind says:

      PF,
      self criticism is the best way to improve oneself. We do not hate PEPE, he is not our enemy.
      We are pointing out where we need to improve and trying to learn from mistakes.

      1. jon fox says:

        Well said! Such good perspective that a playr needing help and fans saying so does NOT mean “hate”, which is something far more evil and sinister, as practiced in wars and violent crimes. So many, in dull witted fashion, lazily use “hate” for simply not rating a players ability.

        Inaccurate language causes arguments and has even caused wars in the world. I prize true and accurate language, as it is cathartic and helpful.

  21. JK says:

    Why is it that everyone feels like any player not starting and scoring a goal a game has no value? To be elite in The premier league and Europe like arsenal claim to be, you need at least 2 players at every position. Pepe, is average to good, whose shown he can be great given the right circumstances. Saka and Auba clearly are the wide players with Martinelli the next man in. But Pepe as a 4th wide player is better than 90% of teams.

    The real problem is the price tag doesn’t equal the results you should be getting. But it’s not Pepes fault how much we paid for him.

    Everyone just needs to be honest, no team is going to spend 100 million every window and sell a 72 million player 2 years for later for 10. That’s terrible business. So just accept him as a fringe player who could be more. At worst he should his presence alone should never let Willian see another meaningful minute. And that would be a win in my book.

  22. AUBA_14 says:

    It’s Nicolas by the way

  23. Reggie says:

    Pepe has masses of talent, he hasn’t produced what he is capable of but he has ability, it just needs to be channelled. He isnt a dud, he actually creates and scores, he probably is a bit like Walcott, you know he could be better. There is still time for the penny to drop. There are players that have limited ability and you know cant get much better, i dont put Pepe in that category but he has been a let down so far, for the talent that is there.

    1. ken1945 says:

      Agree 100% Reggie – as I said earlier, let’s see how good MA is working with this talented player, who needs support and guidance.

      1. Reggie says:

        Ken, if he does fulfill his potential, we have a player. I do think he only has the rest of the season to prove it though.

        1. ken1945 says:

          Again, I agree with you, but MA has to, somehow, give him playing time and the fa cup tie could be the right time.

      2. jon fox says:

        But can any manager give a player who lacks it, determination and will to fight to win KEN? The answer to THAT Ken is what continues to divide you and me from agreeing on several matters.
        I say, as ever, that it is either within a player or it is not. No one from without can provide what NEEDS to be within. Talent not in doubt but heart, I regret to say, IS VERY MUCH IN DOUBT!

  24. Blink says:

    According to auba, Arteta has spent more time working with Pepe than any other player.
    He is certainly a talented boy but you cannot get by on talent alone. He may not have the attributes required by the Prem league & Arteta at Arsenal?
    Same can be said of Ozil. You can have all the talent in the World but if you do not produce consistently and are not doing the job required for the team defensively you will be left out.

  25. The Real Vieira Lynn says:

    To me the real problem is threefold…firstly, if I was trying to coach him up, I would have him spend considerable time on his right foot…if he would develop even a half-decent move towards the end line, he would keep defenders more honest thereby opening up the possibility to get the ball more often on his dominant left foot at or near the top of the box

    secondly, he needs more help with overlapping runs, as teams usually trap him with two defenders because they aren’t threatened by anyone in the wide position…Bellerin seems to do a lot more faking of overlapping runs, then simply sits in the vacated space, which would be fine, except he doesn’t get that the run isn’t just about him getting the ball back, it’s primarily about planting seeds in the defenders minds(kind of like going deep in American football…it has a tendency to soften d’s)

    thirdly, he needs a total attitude adjustment, as his general demeanor and/or body language on and around the pitch makes it appear like he’s somewhat disinterested and unmotivated…maybe he simply lacks the self-awareness you normally associate with top notch players…no matter what the root cause, someone within the organization needs to get in his ear and stay in his ear

  26. Joe Allysons says:

    So we are not allowed to have two good players in one position?

  27. Gabriel says:

    A new player and new coaches. A player came in during Emery time and was later sacked and an interim coach appointed. Thereafter, Arteta was appointed and this new player is still to adjust to both the league and changes in the coaches. What i am saying that its too early to write guy off completely. Those of saying he should be sold at a loss don’t know anything about business. I do not think you will reason that if the business is yours. Do you expect new investment if you keep running at a loss?

  28. AB says:

    Pepe should be sold. We have to move on. It was a bad investment.

  29. Grandad says:

    I really hope Arteta can somehow find a new role for Pepe, who, on his arrival reminded me very much of Daniel Sturridge who was plagued by injuries throughout his career.Could be be effective as a CF.?Finds it difficult to keep possession and no evidence of him being able to link up with others and play quick one, two passes.He is quick but not particularly so over the first ten yards .Is he any good in the air,? Can he finish? At last, a positive as he is a good finisher. If Arteta can get a tune out of Pepe it will be a considerable achievement of good Management, but regrettably, even Managers of great renown like Wenger and Ferguson would have their work cut out.Could be be converted to a left sided midfielder? I really am clutching at straws .For 72m I would have expected the finished article not a work in progress..

  30. Gogo says:

    Dr me the biggest problem with Pepe is that he’s too proud to give more. He thinks he’s a good player and that is it. If he’s critical of himself he should be worried and that should make him do more in the training ground.

    Also I think he’s a player that wants to sishine alone or he wants to be the only star in the team. I say this because whenever you see Pepe in a position on the right he tends to shoot those stupid shots instead of finding a teammate at the far end or putting in a decent cross.

    If he continues like this I would steongly recommend selling him and cutting our loses. If he can adjust 2 things in his game he would be a great arsenal player.
    (1). He needs to learn to beat a man and find a pass instead of trying to get into scoring posspositions even when it’s impossible.
    (2). He needs to work harder off the ball. He needs to take resporesponsibility for his teammates…

    If he still wants to be lazy then he should go back to France and live on his past glory or italy where the league is slower. But in England younhave to work and make it your habit.

  31. Ston says:

    I don’t want our £72 million man to live no 😡 that unacceptable. I do feel that with Mikel Arteta as manager Nicholas Pepe will be one of the greatest and that’s including Bukayo Saka already a superstar and that too will happen to the our Pepe. And believe you me she we take the ‘Champions League’ if we do or Premier League Pepe will be part of that crop that will definitely help us out and damage opposition teams. And take Pepe as a super sub. After all I do think the £72 000 000.00 investment will pay off. So guys have faith on Pepe and don’t rush him.

  32. AhbeyMee says:

    He is an ineffective dribbler. What’s the point of dribble when you lose the ball to opponent majority of the time.
    If he’s not blossoming at 25, when will he be useful.
    if a 19 year old kid can bench him, it’s time for him to go back to less competitive league.
    I still think that deal needs to be investigated. I still don’t want to believe that someone actually paid 72 million pounds for Pepe.
    He’s not that good.

  33. Joe. S says:

    At 25 it would take a player of great character to work on overcoming his weaknesses and proving the doubters wrong. I don’t see it in Pepe and the verdict should be in at the end of this season. On his current form we’d be lucky to recoup half of the investments. Not having seen his bag load of goals in France, it’s difficult to pass judgement on what exactly Raul and co. saw in him to pay such a hefty fee. But we shouldn’t be surprised. These guys have been wrong before.

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