Nicolas Pépé reportedly wants a transfer away from Arsenal this summer window. The 26-year old attacker recently hired a new agent, which many took as a sign that he wanted out of North London. Pépé has struggled to secure a regular place at Arsenal since his club-record £72M transfer in the summer of 2019. Sources suggest that he could be on the move for as little as £25M. There has not been much scuttlebutt about potential suitors.
Pépé has played sparingly this season, making just 5 starts and 19 total appearances in the Premier League, tallying a solitary goal and adding just one assist. He scored two goals and notched four assists in three Carabao Cup matches.
It’s clear that Nicolas Pépé is not part of Mikel Arteta’s plans moving forward. He’s not an Arteta signing nor an Arteta player. There are plenty of guys on the roster from before Arteta took over that have become / remained lineup regulars — Kieran Tierney, Gabriel Magalhaes, Granit Xhaka, etc. Pépé, on the other hand, saw his role diminish. He wasn’t entirely frozen out like Arteta did with players like Mesut Özil, Matteo Guendouzi, and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang, but it’s clear that Mikel doesn’t rate Nico, at least not for the style of football he wants to play.
Presumably if Arsenal sell him, the money will be put towards one of the rumored additions — Youri Tielemans, Gabriel Jesus, or somebody else. But given Granit Xhaka’s failed move to Roma, there is also the possibility that a move doesn’t happen. Arsenal probably have a base number in mind that they’re willing to sell Pépé for, and if nobody offers that number, I could see him staying at the club, although I think that’s unlikely.
There will be plenty of time to reexamine what went wrong with Nicolas Pépé and Arsenal if (when) he’s actually sold. The short version is that it was doomed from the start. Arsenal overpaid under dicey circumstances (that eventually factored into costing Raul Sanllehi his job, I think). It was always going to be nigh impossible to divorce any analysis of Pépé’s play from his price tag, and he wasn’t ever going to be able to live up to the number.
It’s not Nicolas Pépé’s fault. I bear him no ill will. From what I can tell, he handled a difficult situation professionally and without making waves. He just wasn’t a fit for the Premier League and wasn’t a fit for Arsenal. C’est la vie.