Arsenal Need To Be Patient With Highly Talented Nicolas Pepe – Forbes

For the last five years Arsenal fans have grown increasingly agitated at what they have perceived to be their club’s cautious approach to the transfer market.

Each summer would start with the usual hope, only to see it dashed on deadline day as Arsenal spent only a fraction of the massive outlays of their top six rivals.

These disgruntled fans were gearing up for another underwhelming summer this year; there were even briefings the club had a limited budget of no more than £40 million when something strange happened: Arsenal started spending money.

And by the close of the window they had spent a total of £138 million, more than the champions Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.

Almost half of this was needed to secure the signing of Nicolas Pepe from Lille for a club record fee of £72 million.

It appeared his arrival would provide Arsenal with a highly potent strike force as he lined up alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.

“Nicolas is a highly rated and talented winger who was wanted by many of the top teams in Europe,” said Arsenal’s manager Unai Emery. “He will add pace, power and creativity, with the aim of bringing more goals to our team.”

But nearly two months in to the new season Pepe has endured a frustrating start, and has yet to provide any of these goals from open play, with so far just a penalty against Aston Villa to show for his efforts.

More was expected from a club record signing, but it is still early in the season, and Arsenal fans with longer memories will recall it took club legends Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires and even Thierry Henry time to settle in North London.

They should be reassured by the fact that Pepe has too much natural talent not to soon flourish in the Premier League.

Since taking up a position on the right wing for Lille at the start of last year, Pepe has improved immeasurably as a player, making the most of his pace, directness and ability to glide past defenders.

During last season in Ligue 1 only World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe amassed a bigger total of combined goals and assists than Pepe.

But so far this bold and confident Pepe has not been on display at Arsenal where he appears to have temporarily retreated inside himself.

On Monday night against Manchester United the 24-year-old Ivorian international delivered another poor display by constantly losing possession before he was substituted in the second half.

“He needs more adaptation,” Emery has said. “He is playing good but progressively we know there is going to be more performance in him to help us and I want to do now quickly the last step in the adaptation for us.”

“We are working with him first for that adaptation. After the training now we are watching videos with him, also to push him to achieve the details tactically we need for him because he is playing well but also we need in our organisation to be strong with every player to improve a lot.”

Pepe has been used as a second striker with Aubameyang, but would probably benefit from being stationed more on the right wing.

“It has not been easy,’ Pepe recently said. “My stats have not been good enough or my usual performances. My confidence must come back. I am not very worried. It is a new league for me and I must adapt quickly. But it won’t take very long.’

At £72 million, Pepe is the fifth most expensive signing in the history of the Premier League behind Paul Pogba, Harry Maguire, Romelu Lukaku and Virgil van Dijk.

Given time, Pepe has the talent to overcome this slow start and prove he was worth this enormous investment by Arsenal.


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