Inside Nicolas Pepe’s Arsenal exit – why it didn’t work out for £72m record signing

Arsenal forward Nicolas Pepe

Arsenal forward Nicolas Pepe

Arsenal’s £72million record signing Nicolas Pepe has been allowed to walk away from the club for nothing, joining Turkish side Trabzonspor having had his contract ripped up.

Arsenal came to an agreement to cancel Pepe’s contract so there’s no fee. Some people were saying it was going to potentially be a nominal fee but I was always told that that was unlikely, and the likeliest option was contract termination. And given the wages, it was no massive surprise that that’s what ended up happening.

It’s the sixth or seventh major contract termination Arsenal have done in the last few years. Edu’s been on record saying he’d prefer to do that than keep players around who aren’t going to play and that’s what they’ve done with Pepe.

They’ve managed to get a significant salary off the books but then you’d have to factor in that Pepe has walked away with a decent chunk of money as well. He was on about £150,000 a week and it’s not like they’ve just completely saved all of that money.

They would have had to come to some sort of financial agreement with Pepe to cancel that contract early, but they would have saved some. There was a year left on his contract. It’s a shame that this is how it’s panned out in the end.

Nicolas Pepe bad influence claims dismissed

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Pepe were very, very close. The three of them were always together. I don’t know if it’s ‘a clique’ but they were very close. We saw what Arteta did with the three of them, they all got phased out in one way or another.

Lacazette continued to be around, but lost his place in the team towards the end. Aubameyang, we all know what happened with him and Pepe was very similar. He’s moved on.

All three of those players were already at the club when Arteta arrived. He’s completely transformed it all and set the team up his way. Those three players ultimately didn’t fit in because of certain circumstances.

I’ve never heard that Pepe was a bad influence or anything like that. Behind the scenes he is quite a quiet guy from all accounts, not like Aubameyang, who was really loud and boisterous.

Saka rise at Arsenal damaged Pepe prospects

He never let Arsenal down when he played for them. The team just moved on without him.

Pepe was very individualistic and Arteta is very rigid. His coaching is all about certain patterns of play and you see the way Arsenal play now it’s just the complete opposite to the way that Pepe plays. He just didn’t have the qualities in his game that are so essential to Mikel Arteta.

And he also had Bukayo Saka, who emerged just as he arrived at the club. Saka’s now one of the best right wingers in the world that would walk into pretty much every team in Europe. And that was a huge thing for Pepe to try to deal with in his position.

Lots of things worked against Pepe, preventing him from making the mark we were all hoping he was going to make when he arrived at Arsenal.

Marcelo Flores, Arsenal exit explained

Marcelo Flores wanted to go; he wanted to play. He sat down with Arsenal during the summer, and his reps and his family, and they just wanted him to go out and play first-team football.

He had a taste of it last season on loan – it wasn’t the most successful of loan spells at Real Oviedo – but the feeling with him and his camp was that returning to under- 21s football wasn’t going to do him any good whatsoever.

He couldn’t really see a pathway and Arsenal couldn’t really show him a pathway towards the first team at the club.

There were no hard feelings between anyone and then the decision was taken that he could go to Tigres. They think it’s a really exciting project for a player who’s trying to force his way into the Mexico national team on a regular basis.

It’s similar to Charlie Patino – two players who were coming through around the same time, who are really highly rated. But the pathway just isn’t apparent right now and both of them have outgrown Under-21 football.

It was either another loan – and then he would only have a very short time left on his contract – or there was a deal now on the table. It was a deal that worked pretty well for all sides. I fully expect that Marcelo Flores, if he continues the way he’s going, will return to Europe at some point.

Arsenal tend to have now with the young players either a buyback or a matching rights clause. For example in the Daniel Ballard deal, when they sold him to Sunderland, they’ve got a matching rights clause, which, if someone comes in with a bid, will allow Arsenal to match that bid and have first refusal if they want to do it.

That was going to be the same when they were planning to sell Charlie Patino. I imagine there is something similar on the Flores deal. They did get a fee for him; it was around the £2m to £3m mark, more than three times what they got for Rob Holding.

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