Paper Talk: Heat rises on Arteta as Arsenal star dangles exit plan amid problem with manager

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta

An Arsenal star has hinted an exit plan amid a continued issue with Mikel Arteta, while Newcastle plot a Premier League swoop – both in all the latest Paper Talk.

NICOLAS PEPE TEASES ARSENAL EXIT

Arsenal winger Nicolas Pepe has revealed that he could move on this summer following continued struggles to truly find his feet at the Emirates Stadium.

The 26-year-old remains Arsenal’s record signing after his summer 2019 arrival from Lille. He has shown flashes of the form which persuaded the Gunners to pay £72million for him. Overall, though, Pepe has struggled for consistency, both with minutes and goal contributions.

Instead, the attacking quartet of Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Emile Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard have become the leading lights up top in Mikel Arteta’s team.

And despite striker Alexandre Lacazette looking likely to leave as a free agent this summer, Pepe has revealed his frustrations could lead to his own exit this summer.

“I am focused on how well we do until the end of the season and the club’s target, which is getting into the Champions League,” the winger told the Daily Mirror. “Then we will see what happens.

“When a team is winning it is hard for a coach to make changes.”

Ivory Coast international Pepe admitted that Arteta has explained that he is finding it hard to change his winning line-up. The Gunners are in the driving seat for a Premier League top-four finish.

However, Pepe also revealed that it is “sometimes not easy” to get past the language barrier with Arteta. What’s more, he feels he has shown enough adaptation from French to English football to receive more game time. But while it is “frustrating” for him not to play, he “respects” the Arsenal manager and his decisions.

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Nevertheless, the winger is blossoming on the international stage. He has netted four goals and assisted another in his past eight Ivory Coast games, which included stellar Africa Cup of Nations form.

Ivory Coast boss Patrice Beaumelle said: “When I watch Nico on the bench it is painful for him as he loves to play and it is painful for me because I need my players on the pitch for club games.

“I would like him to play more as I am sure he can bring a lot of solutions. When you see what he brings to Ivory Coast, I would like to see him bring so much fun and joy and happiness and goals with the red jersey.”

Pepe last played a 90-minute Premier League stint for Arsenal back in October.

NEWCASTLE WANT PREMIER LEAGUE ATTACKER

Ismaila Sarr and Adama Traore

Newcastle are plotting a raid on Watford for star winger Ismaila Sarr, according to a report.

The 24-year-old Senegal international initially moved to the Hornets from Rennes in the summer of 2019. And he blossomed straight away in his first season. In fact, he made his name with a brace of goals to inflict Liverpool’s first defeat of their title-winning season.

Since then, Sarr has had numerous links with taking the next step in his career.

Jurgen Klopp’s side reportedly had interest before they signed Diogo Jota from Wolves.

AC Milan are now the leading Serie A contenders for Senegal international Sarr. Liverpool are also still reportedly keeping tabs on him.

But, The Sun has now claimed that Newcastle are plotting their own move to keep the winger in the Premier League.

The newspaper claims that Sarr is ‘certain’ to leave, even if Watford avoid relegation. And after the Hornets paid £30million to sign him, the Magpies will have to fork out more.

Still, The Sun adds that £35million is the current asking price. Sarr has scored five Premier League goals this season.

SALAH INJURY FEARS EASED

Mohamed Salah and Declan Rice during West Ham vs Liverpool

The Egyptian FA have eased concerns over the foot injury recently suffered by Liverpool star Mohamed Salah.

The 29-year-old came off during a 2-0 win over Brighton before the international break.

He subsequently started on the bench against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, only to aggravate the issue further.

As a result, he missed Liverpool’s last match – the FA Cup quarter-final win over Nottingham Forest – altogether.

He did play in Egypt’s World Cup play-off first leg win over Senegal on Friday. His shot was deflected for an own goal to hand his country an advantage.

And speaking ahead of Tuesday’s second leg, a statement from the Egyptian FA, carried by the Daily Mirror, said: “We have no further injury issues for the qualifying tie, all of the rest of the players in the squad travelled to Senegal, and coach Carlos Quieroz has no further injury issues.”