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Mikel Arteta has limited time to salvage Arsenal’s club-record investment

The Gunners boss must know the clock is ticking to get Nicolas Pepe finally firing in Arsenal colours after two years of hit-and-miss performances in north London

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Mikel Arteta is running out of time to get a tune out of Nicolas Pepe before Arsenal decide to cue-ties with their most expensive player ever.

The Ivory Coast international cost the Gunners a staggering £72m in the summer of 2019 after his performances for Ligue 1 side Lille put him on the radar of every top European side.

Fellow Premier League side’s Chelsea and Liverpool were also rumoured to have an interest in Pepe’s services, but it was Arsenal who secured his signature for a club-record fee.

Yet two years on, Pepe’s stint in north London has been massively underwhelming while the size of his price tag has loomed large the entire time.

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Nicolas Pepe has failed to justify his £72m price-tag at Arsenal
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Image:

Action Images via Reuters)




Though the fee for which he arrived for was out of Pepe’s hands, the winger’s performances would have drawn criticism had he cost significantly less.

Many Arsenal fans generously considered Pepe’s quiet displays during the 2019/20 campaign a free-hit, the wide-man was simply taking a season to adjust to the rigours of the Premier League.

The player himself promised to do better second time around, uploading a short video to his Instagram profile showing his best bits from his debut campaign with the caption “Loading…19 per-cent” to imply there was plenty more to come.









However, over two years on from his arrival at the club, Arsenal fans are still waiting to see a consistent run of games from the 26-year-old.

At the half-way point of this season, Pepe will be unavailable to Arteta due to his international duty with Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations.

It could be viewed as a damning indictment of Pepe’s Arsenal career that few members of the Gunners faithful are fearing his absence, while there is huge worry as to what Arsenal will do without Thomas Partey – Pepe’s upcoming unavailability is a minor footnote.

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The lack of concern among the fanbase is understandable when taking Pepe’s stats for this season into consideration.

The Ivorian has featured seven times in the league, completing 90 minutes on five occasions – yet boasts a feeble return of zero goals and one assist against newly-promoted Norwich.

In recent weeks, Pepe has found himself playing deputy to 20-year-old Bukayo Saka, who has been near faultless all season.



Nicolas Pepe has completed 90 minutes in the league just once since mid-September




As the January transfer window creeps closer, reports have started to emerge stating how Arsenal would be willing to cue ties with Pepe for as little as £25m.

Signed by Unai Emery, Arteta may view trying to shoehorn the winger into a side that is performing well without him as somewhat of a burden.

Both player and manager will be know that the upcoming run of games could represent a last chance to turn the tide on his Arsenal career before the Gunners deem it the right time to say goodbye.


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