August 1st 2019, Arsenal Fc of London announced the signing of Ivorian winger, Nicholas Pepe, for a club record fee of 72 million pounds, eclipsing the previous record of 62 Million Euros the club paid for fellow African and Gabonese international; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Pepe came in from French side Lille after having an impressive season in the French Ligueon.
But, 2 full seasons later and with 10 games played in this current campaign, the winger has not been able to meet up with the expectattions of the club, in fact, he has lost his starting position to Bukayo Saka with the winger now surplus to requirement.
This was not the outcome so many Arsenal fans were expecting when the news came that he was heading to the north London side. Not only was the transfer fee huge, the club had to spread it across multiple transfer windows just to be able to accommodate it under the FIFA Fair Rules scheme. Sadly, Pepe has not been able to repay the faith the club heirachy had to dole out such a huge sum of money amidst a tight budget.
Reports emerging from France indicates that 3 clubs are ready to sign the now termed Arsenal flop on loan with an option to buy. The clubs include Crystal Palace now been managed by Arsenal Legend Patrick Viera, new cash kings Newcastle United and Everton. It would be recalled that fellow Ivorian Zaha was the alternative option as at the time when Pepe was been courted but the club opted for the latter, he has gone on to do well under Viera with goals and assists, while Pepe has only managed a combined 5 minutes of football in the last 3 top flight games the club has been involved in, with in-form academy duo, Saka and Smith, getting more game time ahead of the record signing.
Some have questioned his mentality to adapt to the rigours of English football as he seems uninterested most times to be involved in the game. An earlier scouting report released by German giants; Bayern Munich claimed the reason they opted out of acquiring him was because he needs 3-4 seconds to make a decision when with the ball and that is not possible in modern football where decisions should be taken in less time, hence, they opting to pull out of his deal.
AC Milan are also monitoring his situation at Arsenal and will be willing to offer 30 million pounds to take the 26 year old to the Milan capital. Whether he will regain the trust of Arteta and the board between now and January is a big ask. He continues to warm the bench and with Arsenal out of Europe, that means even fewer matches to play. He needs to shake-off whatever has held him back from reproducing the scintillating displays he produced in France or risk watching his Arsenal journey come to a premature end.
At just 26 years, he still has enough time to prove his doubters wrong, but maybe in another shirt or country, but not in Arsenal.
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Abel Alasan is a creative writer with over 6 years creating contents for blogs, magazines and documentary projects. His areas of interest ranges from politics, lifestyle, family/parenting and sports.