Former Arsenal player Kevin Campbell thinks Nicolas Pepe is lacking the attitude to overturn his poor spell at the Emirates and get his career back on track.
The right winger impressed at Lille and this resulted in Arsenal spending £72million on him three years ago. Pepe remains the club’s record signing, but just 16 Premier League goals have come his way so far.
Pepe is firmly behind Bukayo Saka in Mikel Arteta’s pecking order. This meant the Ivorian only completed five league matches throughout the 2021-22 campaign.
Reports state he is a target for Newcastle, Everton and Leeds. These clubs think they can pick him up for a cut-price fee and potentially get the best out of the wide man.
But Pepe insists he will remain with Arsenal in an attempt to prove his doubters wrong. In a recent Instagram post, he wrote: “I worked hard during the summer. Change lot of things. I’m focus and determined with Arsenal and my teammates.”
The 27-year-old recently changed agent as he looks to get better advice about his Arsenal future and on a potential move in the next few years.
However, Campbell has slammed him for not putting in enough effort until now. And the pundit wants Arsenal to get rid before the new season starts.
“I have always said the talent level, it can’t be questioned,” Campbell told the Highbury Squad on YouTube.
‘Too late’ for Nicolas Pepe – Kevin Campbell
“We know Pepe is a talented player. But you know what is the big problem?
“How all of a sudden is it that he is different now because he has changed agents? You play for Arsenal. Your attitude and everything should be right from day one.
“This is the problem. This is why these players have to leave. I think he’s got to go. No disrespect, we have seen him influence some games last season and the season before, but the attitude is the one that gets questioned all the time.
“That’s why Saka has run away with that position – Pepe said ‘I will pull my socks up now’. It’s too late. We shouldn’t be hearing that at Arsenal.”
Pepe has shown glimpses of his ability since his move to Arsenal in 2019. However, these have been surrounded by poor performances and Arteta no longer trusts him as part of a starting eleven.
Pepe is becoming a squad player who is reliant on substitute appearances and cup matches for game time. This is simply not good enough for a £72m player.
However, it will be difficult for Arsenal to sell for a decent price this summer. No club will want to pay anywhere near his original fee and this means the Gunners must face the prospect of taking a big hit on the 27-year-old.
Arsenal have got a few transfers right in recent years. Two examples are Ben White and Aaron Ramsdale, who have performed well since joining from Brighton and Sheffield United respectively. However, Pepe is certainly not among this list.
Meanwhile, Arsenal may struggle to land Lucas Paqueta from Lyon amid a key development at the French side.