Mikel Arteta says Nicolas Pepe has everything he needs to flourish at Arsenal but the winger must find the right mindset to perform consistently.
It’s more than 20 months since the Ivorian joined the Gunners in a club-record £72 million move from Lille and the manager is keen to put the onus on the player to deliver on his potential.
The winger scored in both legs of the Gunners’ Europa League win over Slavia Prague – in the process taking his goal tally for the season to 10 goals – but he still has work to do if he’s to convince Arteta to start him more regularly.
“He needed a period of adaptation and that is gone now,” said the boss ahead of Sunday’s game with Fulham. “So we cannot rely on adaptation again, now it is about performance and he can do it.
“He has got the players to support him, a manager that trusts him, he has got all the staff that are willing to help him and all the teammates who really like him because he is a really likeable character, so there are no excuses.”
It sounds as though there is an open dialogue between player and manager and that Arteta won’t have any qualms axing the winger if he doesn’t meet the required standards.
“Probably the biggest thing is when you see that you don’t play and what you have to do to play and then when you do it, you play.
“Nico has this ability – it depends on him, we can help him as much as we want but he needs to have the right mindset and consistency to do what he can do.
“Because that is the level that we are going to ask of him, the level I am asking of him – if it is something below that he is not going to play.
“But if he does what he can do he will have a big chance to play because he has got incredible ability.”