Paul Merson has offered some advice to Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta and claimed £72m record-signing Nicolas Pepe is “out of his depth”.
The Gunners paid big for Pepe in the summer of 2019 and initially he showed some encouraging signs. But since then he has flattered to deceive and Merson thinks the big price tag has weighed heavy around his neck.
The 25-year-old has managed just 12 goals and 12 assists in 56 appearances and former Arsenal attacker Merson thinks he has become an expensive failure.
Merson told the Daily Star: “Nicolas Pepe looks out of his depth and he’s going to have to do it against much better teams than Molde to change my opinion.
“I can understand how he got sent off in the Leeds game. He’s been having a nightmare ever since he joined Arsenal and one Europa League goal in Norway won’t change that.
“He let his frustration get the better of him against Leeds and did something silly with the headbutt, because things haven’t been going well for him at Arsenal for months.
“He came in for £70-odd million. If they’d bought him for £20m nobody would be moaning. But the fee brings pressure, and he’s not been able to handle it.
“I watch him play and I don’t know what he brings to the table. But it’s not his fault Arsenal are struggling.”
‘Arteta doesn’t know his best team’
The former England man also has some pointers for Arteta, who has been in charge since December 2019.
Spanish boss Arteta has admitted it will take him “a few windows at least” to get the club where he wants them to be.
Merson added: “I don’t think Mikel Arteta knows his best team and he’s been there a long time now. He keeps changing it too much. It’s worrying.
“He plays Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front and he brings absolutely nothing to the party. Again.
“If you’re playing Arsenal right now, you’re disappointed if you don’t get something. Leeds looked a better side to me in that game.
“Arteta is safe as houses. He’s going to get time. But he needs to find his best team and stick with it, because it’s not working right now.”