Mikel Arteta has backed Nicolas Pepe to develop and contribute more to Arsenal after what has been a relatively slow start to his career in North London.
Five goals and five assists is probably below the expectations people had when he arrived in a £72m blaze of glory during the summer, but the boss believes the 24 year old isn’t the first and won’t be the last to find adaptation to English football a challenge.
He’s also made it clear that it’s part of his work to get the best out of him by setting up the team in a way which allows the winger to play to his strengths.
“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 it is,” said Arteta.
“Afterwards he needs to have a much clearer picture of the things that are happening on the pitch, why they are happening and how he can solve them. I think he’s in the process of doing that.”
The Spaniard also believes consistency and greater understanding of the Premier League will see him flourish.
“He hasn’t played 12 or 15 games in a row, which is a massive thing for a player in those positions which are more difficult on the pitch to make an impact in games, he needs to earn that with his performances,” he continued.
“He was in France and was one of the biggest stars in the league. He made an incredible year. He comes here and a lot of people didn’t even know him and you paid that price tag.
“So for him to put his brain into this picture and solve all this is not easy. And he’s a really young player.
I hope that we can see improvement from now until the end of the season. If you go through the list of top players that have joined this country, how disappointing they were for the first 10, 12 months and how incredible they were for the next five…
“I think we could have a massive list here because it’s not easy to adapt to this league, but he’s put in the effort and he’s willing to do it, and it will come out.”