Mikel Arteta hopes we’re going to see Nicolas Pepe proving his value between now and the end of the season, admitting it isn’t easy to adapt to English football.
Pepe showed some promising signs in the early weeks under Arteta, particularly in that win over Manchester United. He’s still searching for consistency though, particularly in front of goal.
Whilst I’d argue Arsenal are better for the winger’s unpredictability even when he doesn’t score or assist, it’s clear the team really need him to do both right now. The last time they won a Premier League game without a Pepe goal contribution was August 17th.
Arteta thinks Pepe will start to find his feet soon enough though. It’s no secret players often struggle in their first campaign in England. The important thing is the 24-year-old keeps working to improve.
“If you go through the list of top players that have come to this country, how disappointing they were for the first ten to 12 months then how incredible they were for the next five years, I think we could have a massive list,” Arteta said.
“It’s not easy to adapt to this league but he’s putting in the effort and he’s willing to do it. And it will come out.”
The weight of a £72m price tag
If Pepe came in for a few million pounds, his achievements so far would be seen in a completely different light. Nine goal contributions and plenty of encouraging performances undoubtedly show promise for the future.
The problem is the £72m price tag on his shoulders. He can’t just perform well, he has to be one of the stars of the team. Arteta accepts this a problem Pepe has to deal with, though the rest of the team can help.
“The price that we paid for him puts him in a difficult position straight away because he’s going to be compared to players of that calibre,” Arteta continued.
“First of all the team has to sustain his ability and give him as many opportunities as possible during games for him to be able to execute his qualities.
“The other thing is he has his own responsibility, that’s for sure. He has to be more consistent in his performances. I hope we can see it from now to the end of the season.”