Arsenal have confirmed the departure of club-record signing Nicolas Pepe to French side Nice on a loan deal until the end of the season.
The £72million man arrived at the Emirates Stadium in the summer of 2019 under Unai Emery’s management. While he played a key role for the Spaniard, Emery’s fellow countryman Mikel Arteta has looked elsewhere.
Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka have become Arteta’s go-to Arsenal pairing on the wings.
And with Gabriel Jesus and youngster Marquinhos both joining the Gunners this summer, Pepe has seen his chances diminish.
As a result, Arsenal and Arteta have both agreed that he deserves a move away to get more game time, with Nice the top suitor.
The Ligue 1 side subsequently announced the transfer on Thursday evening. A club statement read: “OGC Nice and Arsenal have reached agreement on a loan deal (without purchase option) for Nicolas Pepe.”
Arsenal added in their statement: “Everyone at Arsenal wishes Nico well in France with Nice next season.”
However, one pundit has claimed that Arsenal should not think about re-integrating a player whose inconsistency is one of his biggest problems.
Gabby Agbonlahor told talkSPORT of Ivory Coast international Pepe: “It’s his attitude, though, it’s all wrong.
“No consistency, that’s what it is. He will be 9/10 one week and then 1/10 the next week. Arteta needs better.”
Pepe has yet to play for Arsenal this season. He was an unused substitute for Premier League matches against Crystal Palace and Leicester. Then, he did not make the squad for last weekend’s trip to Bournemouth.
And that is part of the reason why Arsenal are looking at Wolves’ Portuguese star Pedro Neto as Pepe’s potential successor.
Arsenal suffer Pedro Neto problem for Pepe replacement
ESPN claims that the Gunners are still keen on Neto, despite other reports claiming Wolves plan to reject all advances.
In any case, ESPN adds that Arsenal and Wolves ‘far apart’ in their valuations of the 22-year-old.
What’s more, the fact that Neto is under contract until 2027 having signed a new deal in March puts the Molineux club in a strong negotiating position.
It remains to be seen whether Arsenal will pursue Neto this summer. Either way, they have certainly shown they can cope without another attacking signing,
Do Gunners really need Neto as winger replacement?
Indeed, Jesus – the £45million acquisition from Manchester City – has made a flying start to life in north London.
Saka has continued to impress and Arsenal may well soon reach an agreement over a new contract for him.
Martinelli’s connection with Jesus has helped him score two Premier League goals in three games.
As such, while Neto may be a tempting prospect for Arsenal, they have not been short of goals as they are.
With service coming from the likes of Jesus, Granit Xhaka and Oleksandr Zinchenko, Arsenal have plenty of firepower as it is – and plenty of support for those attacking players.
That is without mentioning the goals Arsenal have been getting from midfielders like Emile Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard.