Unai Emery – the former Arsenal manager – is confident that winger Nicolas Pepe is going to make “progress” at the Emirates Stadium, despite his failure to so far live up to his £72million price tag.
Pepe joined Arsenal from French outfit Lille during the summer of 2019 for a club-record fee, after the Gunners hierarchy made the decision to secure his signature instead of Wilfried Zaha’s.
Both Pepe and Zaha were closely linked with moves to north London throughout the summer window, as Emery looked to add a new attacking option to his squad ahead of the 2019/20 Premier League campaign.
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In the end, despite Emery’s wish to sign Zaha, Pepe was the player that the Gunners opted for, after the Ivory Coast international had shown tremendous amounts of quality at Lille during the 2018/19 season.
However, Pepe’s maiden season in north London failed to live up to expectation, with the winger scoring just eight goals in 42 appearances in all competitions, meaning he attracted no shortage of criticism from the club’s supporters. This season, too, the 25-year-old has struggled to hit the high notes, scoring just two Premier League goals in 11 outings.
This season, Pepe has netted five goals in 21 appearances across the Premier League, Europa League, FA Cup and League Cup, as well as registering three assists.
Although the winger’s numbers do not make terrific viewing, Emery, who is now thriving in charge of Spanish giants Villarreal, is confident that Arsenal’s supporters will soon start to see Pepe for what he really is.
“I was thinking at this time that the adaption of Zaha was probably easier and faster than Pepe, but Pepe is a very good player and I think he’s going to progress,” Emery, who was sacked by the Gunners in December 2019, told football.london.
“He’s now almost…