Premier League • England

Mikel Arteta confirms Arsenal transfer plan after Pepe exit but admits situation has taken turn

Mikel Arteta of Arsenal, August 2022

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has revealed his plans to sign a replacement for Nicolas Pepe but added that the “different” approach may harm his chances.

Ivory Coast star Pepe left the Emirates Stadium on Thursday to join French side Nice on loan until the end of the season. The former Lille man, who cost Arsenal £72million, does not have a purchase option in the move.

Still, his return to Arteta’s team in the long run looks doubtful. Pepe’s departure comes after the arrivals of Gabriel Jesus and fellow Brazilian Marquinhos to Arsenal’s attack.

Adding in Gabriel Martinelli – a third blossoming Brazilian – as well as Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah, and it is clear why Arsenal let their club-record signing leave.

Arteta revealed in Friday’s press conference that Pepe had spoken “a lot” with him about his game time. In the end, the manager did not want “frustration” to set in and affect team morale.

Arteta added: “He has tried everything, his attitude and the way he is, is just phenomenal. You just have to meet the person because you just love him for the way he is.

“But then in terms of the decision you have to make on the pitch, who do you select, we made other decisions and obviously that has had an impact in the chances he had to prove his quality.”

Arteta confirms Arsenal transfer plan

Arteta then confirmed that it is in Arsenal’s summer plan to sign a replacement for Pepe. Wolves’ Pedro Neto and PSV Eindhoven’s Cody Gakpo have both had links with a move to the Emirates Stadium.

However, he insisted that the different approach his side have taken compared to their earlier business may hamper their chances.

“If we can implement the plan that we have, we will try to do [it],” Arteta said. “In that plan, that [Pepe leaving] was something that could happen.

“Now it is a reality and we have been preparing the last two months in order to achieve what we want. Whether that is possible or not, we will see.

“We have done it in a different way. At the start of the window we signed players before getting other players out. Now we have done something different, we have let a player go and maybe [we’ll] be able to recruit somebody. But it’s not a guarantee because the players are still not here.”

Gunners must cope with demands

Arteta was coy over whether his side can cope without signing a Pepe replacement. The only “guarantee” from the Spaniard was that he will try to “get the best” out of what he has.

And a key factor in that will be handling a Thursday-Sunday schedule of matches.

Indeed, Arsenal learned their opponents for their Europa League group stage campaign on Friday. PSV are the pick of the trio the north London side will face.

Last season, Arteta’s side had no distractions and still fell just short of a top-four Premier League spot.

This time, they not only have to react to that anguish, but look to compete in the Europa League too.