Mikel Arteta admits Arsenal fans won’t see the best of Nicolas Pepe until he can cement a regular place in his side, but insists the club’s record signing must earn the right to be considered an automatic starter.
Much was expected of the Ivory Coast international when the supposedly cash-strapped Gunners shelled out £72million sign one of European football’s most highly rated wingers from Lille.
Pepe struggled to win the trust of Unai Emery, who reportedly wanted to sign Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha instead, but has been a near constant presence in the Arsenal forward line since Arteta’s appointment.
Despite some promising moments, particularly in the New Year’s Day win over Manchester United, the goals and assists have been few and far between but Arteta is confident the 24-year-old will come good.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s Premier League match against Newcastle, Arteta said: ‘First of all he needs the right structure behind him to be able to provide the moments of quality and winning games, whether it’s assists, goals, dribbles or whatever…