Nicolas Pépé is close to a loan move to OGE Nice in Ligue Un, per David Ornstein. The move will be a straight loan with no buy option, and the clubs are hoping to complete the deal in the coming days. Pépé will soon head to France, I’m assuming for a medical and to complete the other administrative elements of the loan.
Arsenal bought Pépé from Lille in summer 2019 for a club record £72M. The move has not worked out. He has struggled to reach the scoring heights in the Premier League that he achieved in Ligue Un. 27 goals and 21 assists in 112 appearances in all competitions isn’t terrible, but those aren’t record signing numbers. The deal was also (suspected, not confirmed) part of the reason why the club parted ways with Raul Sanllehi.
Pépé could never escape the expectation created by the transfer price tag. It’s not his fault that Arsenal significantly overpaid to sign him, but at the same time, the reaction to his being less than advertised is reasonable. I think had Arsenal paid a more reasonable amount, say half the transfer fee, and if he were on more reasonable wages, there wouldn’t have been much of an issue. But that’s not the world we live in.
The loan, even though it doesn’t have a buy clause, is best for all parties. Arsenal clear his wages from the books, which was reportedly the primary impediment to bringing in another winger in the transfer window. Pépé moves to a club where he’ll probably start and definitely play significantly more in a league in which he thrived before coming to the PL.