Ahead of Arsenal’s FA Cup game against Leeds United on Monday, their head coach, Marcelo Bielsa has been bigging up Nicolas Pepe’s skills.
Bielsa blooded Pepe when they were both at Lille. The 64-year-old lasted just 14 games before the Ligue 1 side, despite sanctioning a complete squad overhaul, got rid of him, but it was the Leeds man who first handed Pepe his shirt at the club.
“Pepe is a great player with big resources and is a goalscorer. A player who is able to unbalance a match,” said Leeds boss Bielsa.
“Obvious skills, when you have all of these skills in one player, the value is £70m. It was just a matter of time before he showed those skills. One thing is to have the skills, another thing is to have the skills and show them on the pitch. He does both. He has clearly shown his skills and is at a club where he deserves to be.”
Although Pepe only played 11 times under Bielsa (968 minutes) with three goals and an assist, he went on to to score another 34 (with 16 assists) in his next 68 games before Arsenal offered £72m for him so that Unai Emery sit him on the bench.
Pepe, now 30 months older than when Bielsa handed him his Lille debut, played 15 times for Emery with three goals and four assists in 944 minutes.