Mikel Arteta has responded to comments from exit-linked star Nicolas Pepe, challenging his desire to improve in order to play more.
Pepe has had an up-and-down career for Arsenal to this point. Indeed, he has shown his quality, with 16 goals in all competitions last term.
However, this season the Ivorian has struggled. He has made just five league starts, with Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe all being preferred in wide positions.
At present, Pepe is struggling to live up to the record £72million that Arsenal paid for him in 2019. Clearly, he needs to do more to impress Arteta.
There have been links to a move away from the club for Pepe. A move back to France, where the Gunners signed him from was speculated over in January.
In fact, those links cropped up again not long ago, but whether or not a move away materialises remains to be seen.
Recent comments from the winger suggest he may be angling for a transfer. Pepe said he “will see what happens” at the end of the season.
It sounds as if a move away from the Emirates may be on the cards.
However, he will surely still want to do what he can to impress for the rest of the season.
Attempting to break back into Arsenal’s team would help him to impress other sides, if he does want to leave. Although, should he want to stay then he will want to do his all to work his way back into the squad.
Arteta challenges Pepe for more
Clearly, Arteta expects a lot from his players, they are battlling for a top-four finish, and commitment to the cause is key.
As such, fringe players like Pepe challenging the starters is sure to up the quality. Arteta has sent a message to the likes of Pepe, regarding their desire to play.
“I want to hear that if that’s an honest opinion. With Nico I think it is because he hasn’t shown anything different to me. I don’t want to find players who have the complacency to accept the situation. They have to want to improve, try to get the player who is playing to a different level and helping the team more. When you have the opportunity, you have to take it,” he said, via The Mirror.
Indeed, it is clear what the manager wants from his players, and what Pepe needs to do for more minutes.