Mikel Arteta doesn’t believe that Nicolas Pepe is affected by his £72 million price tag but he does admit the player knows he can improve his game.
Handed a rare chance to start against Europa League minnows Dundalk, the Ivorian produced another middling performance before signing off with a stunning strike to cap Arsenal’s 3-0 victory.
His finish, arrowed into the top corner with his right foot from the edge of the box, was a rare moment of quality on a night when he regularly worked himself into promising situations only to give up possession too easily. [see goal here]
In his post-game press conference, Arteta was quick to encourage the 24-year-old to find more consistency in his game, but played down the pressure of his transfer fee.
“Well, knowing Nico and after speaking to him, I don’t think it’s something that worries him too much. It’s about him hitting his best every single week. I think this is where he believes he can do better and we have to try to help him.”
He added: “I don’t think he’s got that [pressure]. I think he’s so willing to do well and show everybody – first of all, his team-mates and myself – and also the fans that he is a player that can make the difference every week.
“Obviously, he’s not been first choice in a lot of the games at the moment but, to be fair, he’s played quite a lot of the moments, some better than others.
“It’s about finding the consistency. Not through the games, but during the games as well to be most instinctive and to be able to do the right things in many, many occasions where he has to make the right decisions on the pitch.”
The boss was eager to stress that he has no problem whatsoever with the way Pepe applies himself in training. Instead, he drew attention to the risk-taking nature of the winger’s game for his sometimes hit and miss performances.
“It’s nothing to do with his attitude,” he said. “He’s a player that takes risks. He’s a very creative player and this is the most difficult thing in football, when they all know what you can do as well and how much they want to prevent your space and the overloads that they generate to defend you as well.
“So to create situations for them is complicated, but sometimes it’s the simple things: the deliveries, the amount of situations he is able to create or attract and then make the right decision to keep evolving that final ball, the finishing, the positioning inside the box which he has to be more consistent at. We are working on that and hopefully he will be doing that much more efficiently.”
Obviously the Arsenal coaching staff have been analysing Pepe’s game closely, trying to figure out what he can do in one-on-one situations to give himself an advantage.
At Lille, the attacker made a habit of carrying the ball long distances on the break against backpeddling defenders. In contrast, in England, he regular picks the ball up on the right flank with a packed backline in front of him. With a preference for cutting inside onto his left foot, opponents seem to know how to combat favourite trick.
Varying up the way he takes on players is something Arteta wants to see more of.
“Yes, he’s been doing that recently a little bit more, going on the outside,” noted the boss.
“It’s something that he can do. It’s just about that one, he attracts people as well and frees someone else with the last pass or the last delivery, which foot he needs to use to attack the defenders as well sometimes to make things easier for him.
“His starting position, sometimes, is not right. But he’s trying really hard and he’s a player that loves to play the game and we need to give him more help to try to be more successful.”
What should have being the appropriate market value of pepe instead of 72m we paid for him ? He seems to come under traore,maximin,deolofue category. was 40m an appropriate price for him ?
Yeah. I think £40m sounds about right. I mean, it was a pretty nuts transfer window and he had just come off a truly breathtaking season. Napoli, I believe, we’re happy to pay £72m too.
Sometimes things just don’t go as you plan. Look at Dembele and Coutinho.
Are we actually looking into that deal and possibly laying some blame or is it just going to be another skeleton in the Raul closet?
My understanding from reports after the transfer is that there wasn’t any other firm bidder for Pepe. The circumstances around the size of the fee paid – which was/is clearly inflated beyond his actual value – remain “unexplained”. It could be construed that we had, in effect, been bidding against ourselves. All very odd and certainly nothing at all to do with any high profile departure from the club.
Maybe Crystal Palace wanting the same amount for Zaha made us think it was the market price.
Who knows? We overpaid for Pepe – for whatever reason(s).
ANYONE with a brain would know just 1 great season doesn’t tell the whole story of a player. for example I remember when Benteke first arrived in England and he scored 27 goals in one season and we needed a striker everyone linked Benteke to arsenal saying he’s exactly what we needed his price was around 35m+ and I remember when they asked Wenger during a presser if he would be interested in Benteke he said Benteke looked like a good player and he has just had his first season in the PL he’d like to see him do it… Read more »
I wish I had time to read this. But I don’t. So yeah, maybe, um, who knows right? COYG?
TL,DR; Pepe was bad business, and most likely a flash in the pan, supported by anecdotal evidence regarding Benteke, followed by vindication regarding lethargy on Aouar deal since he only has had one good season, and lamentations regarding wasted investement in Pépé which could have been repurposed for good CB-Midfield players.
All good points, with due respect to Pépé
That’s why “Don Raul” got sacked.
Tbh 40m seems a bit high. If he had come through our academy, but wanted to move on, would we realistically get 40m for him based on what he’s done in the Premier League? I’d be looking more at the 20m Sheffield paid for Brewster as a yardstick.
Brewster is pure potential as his prior experience had primarily been in the championship whereas Pepe put up 23 goals and 12 assists in Ligue 1. Not even close to comparable
LOL .. Really you do know that he had 33 direct goal involvements Topped only by Mbappe in France and Lionel Messi ? We overpaid the price was probably 45-50 but then there would have been other bidders so likely over 50 in any case to land him. Palace (bless their hearts) wanted 80m for Zaha!!
Judging him on what I’ve seen at Arsenal I think we would struggle to sell him for 40m to another top 6 club.
I mean for all we know, £40m COULD have been what Arsenal actually paid directly to Lille. If that was what they valued him at.
The rest could have been made up of agent fees, selling on fees, youth club fees, image rights purchases and “consultation fees” from other third parties.
In 2014, an estimated 28% of transfer fees went to agents and third party intermediaries. There’s every possibility that percentage has increased today.
Or that we paid another 28% on top of the 72M quid…[gulp].
Lol that would just make a case for embezzlement at that point
Possibly, but the reports suggested the £72million was the “straight” fee – although not paid all in one go. If so, all the other stuff, however much that was, would have been separate (and accounted for separately, like agent’s fees etc., in the club accounts).
Give the lad a run of games from the start. He’s a confidence player and the in and out of the starting 11 does not help his confidence. Hope he starts on Sunday.
Precisely, and we shouldn’t forget he’s still 25 and not as experienced as others at the highest level. All players develop at different rates. He’s seriously talented, one of the top three in the club IMO, he just needs trust and the manager to get him into shooting positions. Where he is deadly.
Having a willing runner and attacker in central spaces in the attacking third (willock) sure helped things too. Still cannot understand why we are just routinely giving up attacking through this area so often.
His in and out of form doesn’t help the manager’s confidence.
Messing the lad about by playing him then benching him isn’t going to help him settle and find any consistency in positive performances.
I like Arteta and calls for his head are from brain dead idiots who clearly know nothing about the game, but if I have one tiny criticism of the manager, it’s that he has been of overthinking matters lately. (I also think he could have used Mesut Ozil for the rest of this season, but that’s done and dusted now).
I do think this is part and parcel of being part of a large squad in this day and age. It’s not like The Mugsmashers or Citeh name the same squads week in week out. There’s only a couple of names who you’d be certain to start.
I don’t think City have named the same squad at all; Sterling, Mahrez, Aguerro, Jesus, Sane (until he was sold), and sometimes de Bruyne and Bernardo Silva shared the forward positions. The latter two and David Silva, Gundogan, Fernandinho, and a couple I’ve forgotten all sometimes played midfield. Their bench was much better than ours, not shorter.
Me too. Would very much like to see him cause problems for Luke Shaw
Saka Lw, Auba, Pepe RW please.
Given Pepe cost over £70million, it’s more of a requirement than a hope, surely. He’s been quite disappointing, overall, since joining us which is down to a number of factors – not least that (inflated) price tag I suspect. It’s also pretty clear that Arteta wouldn’t have bought him had he been manager at the time. None of that is Pepe’s fault, of course. The management team will have to support him as much as possible and hope that he justifies his “star status”.
Emery didn’t want him either. He wanted Zaha. It was Raul Sallenhi and reportedly hired meddler Jorge Mendes who drove that signing home. That’s not to bash Pepe, but simply to point out that not all parts of the first team hierarchy were on even terms on this signing.
Yes, that may well be true.
Have he EVER had a run of games?
I can’t think of more than 4 or 5 in a row last season. Even then he was getting hauled off on 65.
He needs trust and then confidence comes from that. He was my motm in the cup final but Arteta bought Willian in above him two weeks later. That’s the biggest issue here. He needs to play every PL game from now on, as despite what people say he has far more end product than most.
The point that I was making is that, for a variety of reasons, he hasn’t lived up to expectations – game time may well be a very valid one. However, I also think that a combination of the fee and that he isn’t the player that Arteta would have bought (or Emery according to a post above) must be having an effect as well. Clearly we’d rather keep Pepe and try to get the best from him if only, albeit cynically, because we’d lose a fortune if we tried to sell him, particularly in the current market.
Which tpye of player could have been bought by Arteta?, inform Pepe can play for any world class team.
You’ll have to ask Arteta that question, won’t you. It also depends upon who actually has the last word on player transfers at Arsenal. There are recent reports that Edu over ruled Arteta on the purchase of Partey. Who knows? On your other point, Pepe certainly wouldn’t get into any “world class” team – whatever that means – on his form since joining us. Where on earth do you get that idea from? I’m not saying he can’t/won’t improve – I hope he does as an Arsenal supporter – but to say he is “world class” currently is fantasy land… Read more »
I think Blogs’ post today is exactly right: Pepe had a much better first half than one might think. But he also had one horrible corner kick, and a couple of times when he carried the ball into a cul-de-sac. And then he scored a goal that very few players–in any league–could have. So, get him a run of games, play him regularly with Bellerin to combine with, and Aubameyang whose movement he reads well, and we have a chance to have a quality attacking player for the better part of a decade.
Pepe is not a winger. He should be playing in the middle or behind the main striker. That is his greatest attribute. He is not Sterling, Mahrez, Mane or a Willian. He would not beat 2,3 men at once at the Wings to create an opening or score rather Pepe is very adept at lurking around the box or dragging out defenders in the middle. His best position is in the middle. Arteta should try him out there and you would see the difference. Go and watch his games in Lille. He wasn’t operating as a standard winger. He is… Read more »
I have never watched Lille, so I ask out of genuine curiosity. Do you mean like a False-9 like the Willian experiment, or perhaps the hole behind the striker in a 4-2-3-1 thing?
Yes and no, he was effectively playing exactly like Aubameyang is now. As an inverted winger-forward with licence to get into the box. The biggest difference is the team was built around him at Lille.
Could be interesting to see him there, but I feel like he would need an accomplished target man striker to bring him into the game, play 1-2s with etc. None of our current strikers can bring that
I feel like his extreme 1 footedness and lack of balance/power makes it easy to shut him down on either wing. Being in the middle should open up his passing/dribbling options, might make him less predictable
He needs to work on his right foot regardless – last night’s strike was a good start!
I think this is exactly backward. He has blistering pace, likes to get the ball in space and carry it forward. Sterling is the nearest (stylistic) comparison.
There were so many great performances in the Cup Final, but I thought Pepe really gave something consistently through the game (intelligence, pressing, work rate) and seemed ready to kick on this season. Was a bit disappointed to see that he was replaced so easily with Willian at the beginning this season.
Pepe is not cut out for the top level. Lacks that mental grit to perform week in week out. Raul paying fucking 72m for him made his task even more difficult.
Top quality analysis, you’re saying he “lacks the mental strenfff”, eh? Boy am I glad you aren’t our manager.
Play him up front on the right.
Auba in the middle.
Saka on the left.
Nice and simple.
Saw the best and worst of Pepe last night. Was very frustrating, and THAT corner will be in a lot of memes, but he kept going and scored a fantastic goal on his weaker foot. The raw talent is there, getting him to use it more effectively is the challenge. A start would be getting him closer to the box where he can do more damage.
Agree with you. He has an eye for the goal so should be in more goal scoring positions.
Arteta, you talk too much. Football is not all about theory. Out
Football manager explains reasoning for player not always starting to fans…Tony says to football manager “get fired”…class. SMH Tony
Seriously people. Yes in hindsight 72mil was too much. Mind you this guy was putting up Mbappe level numbers when we bought him and players were going for stupid sums.
I think the greatest issues with pepe are how we perceive him and how we utilise him. He’s not a £70m winger. Someone to do great things out wide. We don’t assess auba’s ability to be special by what he does out wide. We assess his worth by what he does when he gets into the box. The same should be for pepe because whenever he gets in there things happen. He just doesn’t get there enough. Salah could probably be classed as a right winger and certainly used to be but all the good stuff that makes him so… Read more »
Pepe is a good player, some players take longer to adjust, and I am sure he will get better with time. We all know we paid too much for him, not his fault! But lets all be honest, he is not a world class player. The other issue is he has played under two managers who are just not good enough at the top, top level to get the best out of him. I like Arteta, he is a good guy, he has done really well, but he has limitations in his tactics and style of play. We seem to… Read more »
There was a graphic recently that showed all the premier league clubs and their most expensive transfers. I think only about 20% of them were transfers that most people agreed were ‘worth it’. It got me thinking about how often it actually works out when clubs pay over around 40 million. Pretty rare. And yet every window, fans are screaming for their clubs to ‘ANNOUNCE X! PAY THE MONEY’. When you think about the fact that Gabriel and Partey were worth roughly the same, or perhaps even less than Pepe, and some argue we over paid for Partey, it puts… Read more »
We should not have recruited Willian. The funds for his astronomically high high fire a 31 year old with his shabby end product should have been directed towards the Aouar intention, which would have provided more danger through the middle and truly freed Pepe. Tactically and positionally.
…astronomically high fee for*
A small thing that struck me yesterday is how much Reiss, Willock, Eddie want to play for each other. There seems to be a trust between them and they all were trying to find each other whenever possible. It makes sense since they all came up together, would be interesting to see all 3 get a run of games. Their youth and hunger and chemistry could bring an interesting dynamic.
We’ve seen enough evidence: we either need to trade him to a counter-attacking team, or change our offense to suit his skills. No other way.
Key is consistency. 72m outlay (which still weighs on our transfer windows each summer), you’d expect more. A summer does not a swallow make. He comes up with the occasional brilliance and now seems to have found a right foot but he needs to replicate it. He has skills in his locker but unless you are prey to stat merchants, he rarely wins his take ons which he should be doing given skill set shown at Lille. One interesting potential though is perhaps playing him in time to come up top. He has the pace and if he has two… Read more »
I love what Mikel is saying about what Pepe needs to do to develop. He really knows how Pepe will fit into his system and at the same time make him a better overall attacking outlet in the Premier League. There are so many things for him to adapt to, but he is willing to do it. Balancing taking away some instinctive habits and creating news ones is no easy task. But that IS NOT Pepe’s fault, it is the scouting model that was used (or lack of it) in determining the price tag. He is a brilliantly technical and… Read more »