Arsenal could offload Nicolas Pepe to a Ligue 1 suitor after a potential offer caught the attention of his agent, according to reports.
Pepe has struggled to justify his price tag since a club-record move to Arsenal from Lille in 2019. For perspective, he scored 23 goals in his final season with the French club. It took him the best part of two years to match that tally with Arsenal.
The Ivory Coast international has fallen behind Bukayo Saka in the pecking order at the Emirates Stadium. At the age of 27, he will not want to be spending that much time on the bench.
Therefore, Pepe has been linked with an exit over the summer. It has been hard for them to identify many suitors, though.
There was a brief suggestion of a move to fellow Premier League side, Leeds United. But now, Pepe has emerged onto the radar of a club back in France – OGC Nice.
According to French outlet, Foot Mercato, the Ligue 1 side have expressed an interest in signing Pepe on loan. His agent is aware, and in turn, it has emerged that the forward would be willing to return to French football by joining Nice.
Arsenal must therefore decide whether they would agree to Nice’s proposal of a loan. They have Pepe under contract until 2024, so would presumably be hoping to convert his exit into a permanent one next summer if they have no place for him in their plans.
It is almost certain that they will make a loss on him after their original £72million investment. But sending him away on loan first might be a good step to recoup some of his market value.
Loan might be beneficial for Nicolas Pepe despite race against time
If he does well with Nice, he may be worth more than if he was to spend another season as a rotation player in north London. Given the impact he had in France before, there is reason to believe he could excel at the Allianz Riviera, even if it may take some time to get back up to speed first.
Nice could be a good destination for Pepe also because of the fact they will have European football to play for. A two-legged play-off in the Europa Conference League against Maccabi Tel Aviv this month will determine whether they will have a continental adventure to go on.
Should they make it through – perhaps with Pepe’s help if things progress quickly enough, although that looks unlikely to be in time for the first leg on August 18 – it would add another exciting element to the potential loan deal.