Premier League • England

Arsenal set to finally offload Nicolas Pepe after loan deal agreed but key clause missing

Arsenal winger Nicolas Pepe

Exit-linked Arsenal winger Nicolas Pepe

Arsenal are finally close to offloading flop Nicolas Pepe after agreeing a season-long loan deal with Nice.

A number of outlets, including The Athletic’s David Ornstein report that a deal is in place to take the 27-year-old to France. Pepe is now set to travel to the south of France to undergo his medical and finalise the move.

The prospective deal though does not include an option to buy and is a straight loan.

Pepe emerged as a target for the Ligue 1 club earlier this month. French outlet Foot Mercato reported the French club’s interest and Arsenal will be finally be breathing a sigh of relief.

Pepe, a club-record £72m purchase in 2019, has scored 27 goals in 112 appearances for the Gunners. He has not lived up to his billing at The Emirates after contributing to 33 goals in his last season in Ligue 1 for Lille.

His reported £127,000-a-week salary will mostly be covered by Nice, as per Nice-Matin.

Leicester City had offered to cover Pepe’s full wages, but the winger was intent on a return to his homeland. Whether or not Nice will try and push for a permanent deal will depend on the player’s form.

Pepe still has two years remaining on his Arsenal contract, but his move will also give other clubs to see the player in action.

Pepe’s game time was limited last season, Mikel Arteta only afforded the player five Premier League starts.

Pepe exit could open door for new signing

Edu revealed it was not easy to offload players earlier in the summer, he told Sky Sports: “No, but it’s a part of our job to try to create some opportunities for the players.

“I think the most important thing is to make the player understand why he is here or why he needs to go. And then we have to create some possibilities with the player’s agents. And try to find the best solution possible for the player.

“As soon as you give to them a clear idea of what you want to do, it helps the situation. It’s a challenge because you have to find clubs, situations and loans. But again, if you can be direct to the player in a very respectful way, that helps a little bit to make the best decision.”

The sale could well give Edu and Arteta room to add another player to the Arsenal squad.

Yeremy Pino and Pedro Neto are the two high-profile names mentioned as targets. But reporter Dean Jones has claimed Arsenal could reignite their interest in Wilfried Zaha.

Unai Emery ironically opted to sign Pepe instead of Zaha back in 2019. But the Crystal Palace attacker remains on Arsenal’s list of targets.