Mikel Arteta defends Nicolas Pepe and insists Arsenal’s record signing ‘needs help to succeed’ with Gunners boss set to offer £72m winger more minutes following rocky start to life at the club
- Mikel Arteta is eager to help Nicolas Pepe succeed at Arsenal after a rocky start
- Pepe has failed to live up to his £72million price tag since joining in 2019
- His most recent performance against Newcastle drew criticism from Ian Wright
- However, Arteta insists the Ivory Coast star needs more time to improve
Mikel Arteta is eager to help Nicolas Pepe succeed at Arsenal and has laid out what the club’s record signing needs to do in the upcoming months.
The attacker joined in the summer of 2019 from Lille for a £72million fee and while he has produced moments of quality, a lack of consistency has impacted his time at the Emirates.
After Pepe scored eight goals during his debut campaign, the hope was for the Ivory Coast international to kick on but he has struggled in the Premier League this season and was recently sent off at Leeds.
Mikel Arteta is eager to help Nicolas Pepe (pictured) succeed at Arsenal after a rocky start
‘We need to help him to (succeed),’ Arteta said. ‘In order to do that he needs minutes, he needs consistency in the team and when he has that, he needs to show he is capable of doing it.
‘Let’s see how the next few months develop.’
Pepe has found the net three times in the Europa League this term but only made four league starts and cut a frustrated figure during Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Newcastle in the FA Cup before he was withdrawn with the tie goalless.
The Arsenal boss insists the £72million winger needs more time if he is to succeed at the club
The 25-year-old has been an unused substitute in the Gunners’ last two top flight wins and Crystal Palace visit on Thursday with compatriot Wilfried Zaha set to lead the line for the Eagles.
Arsenal notably decided to sign Pepe over Zaha when Unai Emery was in charge, but current manager Arteta has called for patience.
He added: ‘I think it is hard to make judgement on some players that haven’t played many minutes over the last two or three weeks and to throw them in and expect them to be the best player on the pitch.
‘I don’t think it happens and Nico tried. He tried all the game and had some really good moments – moments where he could have scored two or three goals.
Gunners legend Ian Wright wasn’t impressed with Pepe’s performance against Newcastle
Wright hit out at Pepe (left) and Willian (right), describing their efforts as ‘very, very poor’
‘In a normal circumstance and with his ability in those positions, he puts the ball in the back of the net. He didn’t do it but I think his contribution overall was good.’
Pepe’s performance at the weekend drew criticism from club legend Ian Wright, who slammed both Pepe and Willian for ‘very, very poor’ displays in the FA Cup.
‘Very, very poor from [Pepe] today,’ Wright told BBC Sport. ‘Same with Willian. These are two players we needed a lot from, and we are just not getting it, to be honest.’
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