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Nicolas Pepe must banish inconsistency for most crucial stage of his Arsenal career


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hen he joined Arsenal in 2019 for a club-record fee of £72million, Nicolas Pepe would surely not have imagined that two years later he would be behind two academy graduates in the first-team pecking order.

The word inconsistent sums up Pepe’s time at Arsenal and, while he has struggled, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe’s stars have continued to rise on an almost weekly basis.

The youngsters are Mikel Arteta’s preferred options when it comes to deciding who should start out wide and it has left Pepe struggling for action.

Since the start of October the Ivorian has played just 122 minutes in the Premier League and that has naturally fuelled talk of a move when the January transfer window opens.

Newcastle, who take on Arsenal this weekend, have been mentioned as a possible destination and others, such as AC Milan, have also been named in gossip columns.

Not for the first time, it seems like Pepe is coming to a crossroads in his career and the rest of this season feels like a pivotal time. Come the summer, the 26-year-old will have two years to run on his contract and that is usually the time clubs look to extend a player’s deal or move them on.

Pepe has had tough times in his career before and that, at least, should help him as he tries to kickstart his season.

The winger’s talent has never been doubted by any of his coaches, but even when he was first starting out at Angers there were issues.

Pepe has opened up about how he was making “childish mistakes”, mostly on the pitch aside from one infamous incident involving his hair.

“Actually, on a day I arrived at the training centre [in Angers] at the start of pre-season, I had this big mohican and the coach asked me to get rid of it,” Pepe recalled to Arsenal in 2019. “I did not get rid of it straight away. I kept it but, the longer I kept it, the less I trained. So, in the end, I cut the whole thing off.”

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