Premier League • England

Mikel Arteta to press ahead with sale of Arsenal attacker who is ‘training well’

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta during their 1-0 victory over Watford 2021

Mikel Arteta is pondering the sale of record signing Nicolas Pepe, despite denying he would entertain January offers for the Arsenal man on Friday.

Unai Emery paid a club-record £72m for Pepe in the summer 2019. But despite a promising start the winger has failed to deliver on a consistent basis. And The Sun report “time is running out of time to prove himself at Arsenal” and the Gunners could consider selling him in January.

Pepe has made just five Premier League starts this season, but only one of those has come in the last two months. Pepe’s time out of the side has coincided with an upturn in form for the Gunners.

England youngsters Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe are ahead of Pepe in Arteta’s thinking. And the club are contemplating offloading the Ivory Coast man before his value plummets much further.

Pepe, who has two-and-a-half-years to run on his £140,000-a-week contract, has has reportedly been interesting Newcastle.

Arteta was probed about his under-performing winger on Friday, but denied talk of offloading him.

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Arteta insisted: “What we are interested in is for Nico to perform at the level he can.

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‘Not the moment to talk about Pepe future’

“He has had some really good performances for us since I have been here and other moments when he hasn’t participated that much. That’s a part of football which you have at every team. You only have 11 players on the pitch and when you have a 24-man squad there are 13 that don’t play.

“Nico has very specific qualities and when he can put them in place they’re magnificent.

“But we have talked about consistency and he needs to do what he is doing and even raise his level. That is what we want to make the team better.

“He is training well but sometimes the coach makes a decision based on other qualities that are necessary in the game plan for the day and has to choose between two or three players.”

Asked further if there would be any thought of entertaining offers in January he added: “No – and it’s not the moment to talk about that either.”

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