Saturday, May 25, 2024

Pepe: Difficult season linked to language barrier

At the weekend, Arsenal released an interview with Mikel Arteta in which the manager spoke passionately about the importance of his players being able to communicate together in English.

“You cannot create your figure, your identity, within the dressing room and the club without being able to communicate,” was one line from the Spaniard.

24 hours later, Nicolas Pepe, who has spent most of this season as a benchwarmer, said the language barrier has proved problematic for him this season.

Away on international duty with Ivory Coast, the winger was asked about his form and where his future might lie.

He said: “I am focused on how well we do until the end of the season and the club’s target, which is getting into the Champions League. Then we will see what happens.

“Mikel Arteta has explained that to me and the coach knows what I think and how hard I’m working.

“It is also about communication. Sometimes it’s not easy to communicate with the language barrier. It has been a tough season for me.

“Of course, it is frustrating not to play. No player enjoys not playing but I have to respect the coach’s decision and the team is doing well at the moment.”

While we’re not suggesting communication is the key reason for Pepe’s limited game time this season – it’s worth remembering Arteta and several players also speak French – it’s certainly interesting that he’s highlighted the issue.

In February, the manager said Arsenal needed Pepe “at his best” for the Premier League run-in and suggested the player had returned from the African Cup of Nations with “changed” energy.

All the same, it remains to be seen whether the player sticks out the remaining two years of his contract at the Emirates.

You suspect the 26-year-old won’t want another 12 months playing backup to the Gunners’ young bucks and the club can’t afford to let him enter the final year of his contract without a clear plan.

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Time for footballer ESL scouting vids, and FIFA ratings to include an IELTS score.


HA. I suspect you meant in humour but for most immigrants that come to the UK from non-English speaking countries, a minimum IELTS score is a strict visa requirement.

Football players do need to be incentivized in general at any rate; we’ve had players in the past that would ask for translators for interviews, well into 5-6 years at the club.


There are a decent number of guys with not great communication/English doing well for the club. Alexis and Arshavin come to mind. It’s a factor, but I don’t think it explains why Pepe has been sidelined.

Heavenly Chapecoense

Will Arteta pick any English striker over Lewandowski or Benzema?

A Different George

Would anyone, including Southgate, pick any English striker over Lewandowski or Benzema?


Yes. I think he will


He’ll pick someone younger for starters, way younger


Lot of English player have trouble with the language.


I confess I’m an ignorant American who can only speak American English. And I had great trouble understanding some of the accents around Great Britain. Surprisingly I can understand Tierney who must have adapted his speech to the Londoners. 🙂

Johnny 4 Hats

I hope, thanks to his performance against Wolves and his international duty success, that there will be takers in the summer. Anything over £20m would be a minor miracle.

I’m not too sure about the language excuse three years into a contract. That’s a year one problem. It’s hard to feel that a player is 100% motivated to be somewhere if, after three years, they still are struggling with the language barrier.


It reminds me of Gabriel Paulista, who ultimately left without having managed to break the language barrier – and I wonder if that wasn’t the same with Torreira too.
The problem is, we might have to sell him to a French club then, unless we consider a Latin language will be easier for him, and try Spain or Italy?

Chuck Felsea

We only HAVE to sell him to a French club if he himself realises the problem and declines to go somewhere else. Otherwise we can just sell him to anybody and not care how he does there.
I am convinced that Pepe is a very good footballer, but for now he is a huge financial failure. (Not his fault he was bought for that sum, though). But if I then hear that the player doesn’t really do everything to succeed here, I also conclude that Arsenal doesn not really need to care how his career goes after leaving the club.

Chuck Felsea

Forgot to add: My preference would still be that his performances somehow explode and he does great for us, but unfortunately I don’t see it happening anymore.


I feel sorry for Paulista. Even native speakers couldn’t understand Emery’s English

Boe Sharkey

We’d comfortably get over £20m for him imo. We’ll make a loss, no doubt, but he’s a talented footballer and could explore in the right environment. A move is right for both parties.

Boe Sharkey


Johnny 4 Hats

Perhaps. There are high wages to think of too. I think between £20-25m would actually be a fair valuation for both parties.

Thanks Raul.

Man Manny

Edu and his team may have to reach out to Chelsea: they could sell Pepe for a profit.

Heavenly Chapecoense

Please, we need him. We’re not Real Madrid, PSG or Bayern yet.


He doesn’t look happy. The manager doesnt trust him. We are not rm psg indeed. We cant afford 72 mil on the bench


He’s a confidence player and will smash it somewhere else. For me, a pity. Literally scores or assists every time he comes on ffs


Aubameyang’s success at Barca could suggest that Pepe has a higher ceiling than Arteta thinks he does, and that may translate to a better offer for him. I like him on offense. Some days he’s unplayable. But he simply does not contribute on defense. That’s going to keep him from being a regular starter at Arsenal as long as Arteta is at the helm (which I hope is a long time). He’s backup for Saka now He’ll probably be playing somewhere else next year and do well. Good luck to him. He’s been a solid professional and shown some real… Read more »

Richard Warren

Pepe is the most one footed player in the world. He is so left footed it makes him easy to play against. Was massively overhyped when we bought him and he hasn’t had a good season yet. He needs to improve immensely to handle top level Premier league and I feel its too late for him to start developing now.


Pepe had 16G/10A all comps last season as a part-timer. Good, but perhaps not very good numbers– for an 8th place side.

If we didn’t need insurance this season (with such a light squad) his departure might have been accelerated last Summer. Plus, Arteta has honed some gems from raw product (Sterling, Saka, ESR, Martinelli). Possibly felt he could do so with Pepe too.

Heavenly Chapecoense

Why Sterling who was already like Saka at Liverpool?


Sterling himself publicly stated that it was Arteta who helped him raise his game to the level he’s achieved at City.

Hope the player’s own opinion clears it up.


Saka and ESR are far from finished products. MA is still refining


People vastly overestimate how good Saka is compared with Pepe. See the following premier league only stats for goals and assists. Saka does not come close to Pepe when looking at rate of goals scored last season (goal/161min), and Pepe had a better rate of assists his first season. Has not had a good season yet… Pepe 19-20 min/goal = 402 (5), min/assist = 335 (6) 20-21 min/goal = 161 (10), min/assist = 1611 (1) 21-22 min/goal = 594 (1), min/assist = 594 (1) Saka 19-20 min/goal = 1753 (1), min/assist = 350 (5) 20-21 min/goal = 512 (5), min/assist… Read more »

Thierry Bergkamp (Xhaka Out)

Imagine Man Utd or Spurs signed him for 72 million, we’d be taking the piss, so I’ll say it how it is.
What a flop he’s been. I used to call him Gervinho Mk2, but that’s insulting to Gervinho


A bit harsh.

He’s a decent player but it looks like Arteta just doesn’t fancy him. For his and the club’s benefit it would be best if he moved on in the summer. His transfer fee and wages could be invested in a more productive player.


Unbelievably harsh on Pepe. He is obviously a very talented player but he hasn’t adapted to our possession based style.


I agree with the sentiment, If utd or spurs had signed a player for that fee and he couldnt get into the team we would be mocking them for it.

but most of the time we would be doing that because its utd or spurs not to ridicule the you seem to be doing to two arsenal wingers.

also Gervinho was once the highest paid player in the world (his spell in china)


Gervinho was a decent player; he just didn’t fit in at AFC. I remember that Szczesny interview about the “40 best players” he played with, and when the interviewer asked about Gervinho, Szczesny said: “Forty best? Add a zero.”


From YouTube compilations of Cody Gakpe who we’re apparently very enthusiastic about – looks spectacular, takes risks, inconsistent, question mark over off-the-ball performance. Pretty much what Pepe was three years ago. I’ll admit that’s just off YouTube, I’ll bet that the most “advanced” stats are not going to tell a drastically different story.

Similarly there wasn’t much difference between Leno and Ramsdale. It’s just that the manager wants “his guys” in the dressing room to establish authority. Quite expensive and not a courtesy extended to previous managers, but sure, why not get some shiny new players.

Naked Cygan

Pepe is a good player, but unfortunately he is kind of in the same boat as Auba as far as fitting into Arteta’s system. This is football and the risks involved. Auba is getting lots of goals in barca and that system fits him. I am sure pepe will come good. Tbh he hasn’t got much playing time last few months.


I like Pepe and have always wanted him to succeed, but if he hasn’t developed at least “solid” English in close to 3 years in England then that’s on him.


Agreed. If I was paid as much as a Premier League footballer and I thought language was acting as an impediment to my success, I would be working my arse off to improve it.


Thanks Pepe, please allow us to sell you easily by ensuring you dont overestimate the wages you deserve. Good luck!


He‘s in his 3rd season with us. If there‘s still such a language barrier that he‘s unable to communicate, it doesn‘t speak for him tbh. English is not that complicated, that you can‘t learn basics in 3 years, if you really want to.


what about your french?


The difference is, Berlingoon isn’t being paid tens of thousands of pounds a week.

If you’re getting paid that much, there’s absolutely no excuse to not be doing as much as you can to be successful


Désolé mais je ne vois pas le rapport.


Some players just don’t settle in England and not all of us are good at learning languages. Nico Pepe seems quite a shy guy, he’s very private and I think he was damaged by that price tag which was obviously a scam by Sanllehi and his dodgy mates at Lille. On his day, and in the right team, Pepe could be sensational, he’s a very talented young man, but sadly I don’t think he fits in at Arsenal. I honestly think that a move back to France in the summer would suit all parties, hopefully he could be happy and… Read more »


Very true, he shines for his national side.


True, mind you I don’t think that Bobby Pires was that fluent in English and it didn’t stop him being absolutely brilliant in an Arsenal shirt. I think that the language issue is only part of the reason, personality could be a part of it as mentioned above as it was with Antonio Reyes, bless him.


With you all the way up until you mentioned him leaving.

I still think he’s versatile and talented enough to adapt his game to fit in with Arteta’s style.

For this side to be in the ECL next year and putting together a EPL title tilt, we’re going to need a strong squad with players of Pepe’s calibre.

I say we keep him and continue to develop him.


Id like to note pepe doesnt say its language, he says its communication.

That could mean that he is getting shouted at too much/too little or is confused about his role.

Eazy Deezy

To be pedantic, he does say that language is the issue:

“Sometimes it’s not easy to communicate with the language barrier”

The Far Post

TBF, he did say, “Sometimes it’s not easy to communicate with the language barrier”, which implies a difficulty with English.


If Arteta had confidence in Pepe’s play, he’d be on the pitch. The language barrier thing is a convenient (for everyone) excuse. That’s fine. But Pepe could speak fluent English but still not start.


I love these comments from people about not being able to learn English. How many of them have learnt a foreign language? How many have any idea how difficult it can be as an adult to learn a foreign language?


I’m going to make a similar point to the one I made above.

I’ve got no doubt that learning a foreign language is difficult, but if I was getting paid tens of thousands of pounds a week (and therefore had the money to pay for top-quality tutoring), I’m pretty sure I’d at the very least be comfortable conversing with people after three years.

Chuck Felsea

The thing is also that no one would care at all if the performances were great. But if that is an issue that is identified as a limitation to the footballing career, it needs to be adressed the same way as if someone is not good in shooting with his left foot or too slow in sprinting.
It needs to be identified by the club and then both club and player need to work on making the deficiency better.

Giuseppe Hovno

I spent years trying to learn Czech. Fuck me it’s hard


You know at least one czech word. Nice name😁👍


Usted tiene razon.


Fuck me he’s been here for 3 years and noone’s asking him to give a physiology lecture.


Try Irish, Scots, or Welsh Gaelic. I’ve a D.Phil and could not make any headway with any of the.


The Welsh aren’t actually saying anything: they just pretend to be speaking a foreign language to annoy the English.

Man Manny

There is only a remote chance of Pepe being anything more than a back-up to Saka… except Saka is injured.
Saka scores, assists, and weighs in with a bit of defensive duties; so there is nothing Pepe does better than him at the moment. The gap is even likely to get wider in the coming seasons as Saka continues to develop.
The wise option is to sell Pepe and get a younger winger in.
I have heard rumours of Gakpo of PSV. Someone might be thinking along those lines.


If we want to be cynical this is the perfect excuse to help him and us retain as much value as possible…

Arsene for CEO

Absolutely stunning player. His only short coming has always been in his head. Be it that determination to learn English or to proudly snatch the main man opportunity and the number 7 shirt when it was on offer. I hope he stays, finds his fight and earns a contract extension, would hate to see him go somewhere else and explode and I’m still hoping Arteta pulls a Henry on him and converts him to that 9 we need.

Box in the Fox

He’s a very unique skill set, albeit more suited to a counter attacking style rather than off the ball aggressive pressing and on the ball possession hoarding/building, and he’s an extremely useful option to bring off the bench when chasing a goal, people seem to forget if you’re in Europe you need quality backups and a squad depth that can afford a bit of rotation and help ensure that injury crisis don’t mean too steep a drop off in quality, he may never be an Henry, Vieira, Pires, level nailed-on first teamer, but he is a player who can’t absolutely… Read more »

Brady’s bunch

I’d take parlour over him any day of the week.

Brady’s bunch

Move him on Simple’s, he’s not going to tear up the league after three years here with very little to show for it.


To be fair, it is hard to tear it up from the bench and he has never really had a prolonged run in the team. Could be that Arsenal managers have not been able to get the best out of him, maybe at another team it works out. Just look at Lukaku at Chelsea compared to Lukaka at Inter.

Brady’s bunch

Yes that could be the case but you have make the position your own which he’s never been consistent enough to do also three years in he should have a grasp of the language

Kamsi victor

While we’re not suggesting communication is the key reason for Pepe’s limited game time this season – it’s worth remembering Arteta and several players also speak French – it’s certainly interesting that he’s highlighted the issue.

David Dein

Some interesting comments here….
so based on the discussions, I guess Gabriel Magalhães speaks better English than Pepe and Edward Nketiah?

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