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.