This is a bizarre one — Arsenal are “prepared” to let Nicolas Pépé leave the club on a loan before the close of the transfer window, per reports. The Ivorian winger and club record signing has been out-of-favor at the Emirates this season, playing 505 Premier League minutes over 5 starts and 9 appearances with no league goals. The report has an unnamed Spanish club “confident” of a deal with interest coming from Germany and France as well.
This rumor doesn’t pass the smell test for me. Why would Arsenal ship Pépé out? Sure, he hasn’t been starting. But he does play, and there haven’t been reports of any Aubameyang-esque falling out with Mikel Arteta. He was pictured training with the club in Dubai earlier today. The club tweeted “Well played with #TeamCotedIvoire. Good to have you back with us, Nico.” It doesn’t seem as if there are any issues there.
Pépé had a strong tournament for Ivory Coast, scoring 2 goals, adding an assist, and creating multiple chances per game. Perhaps an in-form Pépé could help jumpstart Arsenal’s scoring. Maybe Mikel Arteta will get creative and try Pépé leading the line (and / or Gabriel Martinelli, we can dream, right?).
Beyond that, Arsenal need bodies. Did you see the bench for the Burnley match? Four players who had yet to make their senior debut for the club plus Charlie Patino. Eddie Nketiah as the only attacking substitute. Mikel Arteta needs experienced, senior players who have a chance to make a difference as a sub to fill out his matchday squads.
Finally, Pépé has 2.5 years remaining on his contract. There is no pressing need to sort out his status at the club. Even if he isn’t part of the long term plans, there is no reason to ship him out this instant. Much better to wait until the summer when moving another senior player would leave an already thin roster even more bereft.
Nicolas Pépé isn’t going anywhere today.