Nicolas Pepe has told Canal+ – as per The Mirror – that he is frustrated at his infrequent game time at Arsenal under Mikel Arteta but is committed to breaking back into the starting XI by impressing in training.
Pepe, 23, joined Arsenal in the summer of 2019 from Lille for an enormous £72million – a fee which is expected to be paid over a number of years. He has since played 54 times for Arsenal, but he has hardly made the desired impact.
The Ivory Coast international has completed 90 minutes on just three occasions this season, starting only six of his 12 league and cup appearances. Only one of those starts has come in the Premier League, from a possible eight.
Pepe spoke candidly while on international duty, stating that it is “frustrating” for any player to watch on from the substitutes bench but the £100,000-a-week (Spotrac) made it clear that he is doing his utmost in training.
“My goal is to play more,” Pepe said. “A player who plays is happy. For me, I would like to play a little more to find a smile again. He [Arteta] wants me to be 100 per cent focused during the 90 minutes of the match.
“I see during training that I will be a substitute the next weekend. The coach speaks to me. It is frustrating for any player to be on the bench. The coach makes his choices. It’s up to me to show him that I don’t have that role.”
BGA’s view – Surely Pepe deserves a chance, given Willian form?
Willian was brought in from Chelsea on a free transfer after shining for the west Londoners last season. Though well into his thirties, Arsenal chose to meet his enormous wage demands and bring him to The Emirates.
But Willian has struggled since swapping Arsenal for Chelsea. Given Pepe has scored three times this season, twice in the Europa League and a crucial strike against Sheffield United, surely it is time for him to get a chance.
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