Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Arteta explains decision to loan Pepe, trying for replacement

Mikel Arteta says Arsenal decided to loan Nicolas Pepe to Nice because he couldn’t guarantee the Ivorian the necessary playing time to keep him happy.

The winger returns to Ligue 1 hoping to get his career back on track having fallen out of favour at the Emirates over the course of the last 12 months.

By the time he returns to the club, he’ll only have a year left on his contract and the Gunners are expected to sell him at a big loss.

“It’s been three years and he some good moments, some others where he hasn’t really contributed much in terms of minutes,” explained Arteta in his pre-Fulham press conference.

“We decided for every party it was the best decision to allow him to go. He needs to play football.

Arteta added: “He needs his minutes, he’s been craving minutes, he’s been talking to me a lot about it.

“I can’t guarantee that right now for what he was he was looking for. At some stage, if you extend that period for too long then frustration comes in, the level of performance won’t be what we want so we decided it was the best thing to do.”

Asked if the club-record £72 million fee that was paid to Lille in 2019 weighed heavy on Pepe’s shoulders, the boss continued:

“I don’t know, I think Nico has tried to deal with that in the best possible way. Obviously, he’s not responsible for the price that a club pays for him.

“He’s tried everything, his attitude is just phenomenal, you just have to meet the person. You have to love him for the way he is but then the decision you have to make on the pitch and who you select, we have made other decisions and obviously, that has had an impact in terms of the chance to prove his quality.”

Struggling to find a buyer for a player for whom the club paid so much is certainly a chastening moment for the Gunners, even if the driving force behind the deal, former Head of Football Raul Sanllehi, was let go some time ago.

For Arteta, the deal is one of many that highlights the unscientific nature of recruiting players.

“The club or whoever decides to bring in players all the time, whether I’m involved or whoever, it’s always with the best intentions because we believed.

“They believed at the time that it was the best player in the market to have an impact for the club. Sometimes it’s not that easy and you see that everywhere. You get a top, top player, you put him in a different context and suddenly it doesn’t work.

“This industry is complicated, we try to minimise the risks as much as possible but at the end of the day, they are not machines, they are human beings and they need all the factors to go right to fulfil their potential.”

Having allowed Pepe to leave, attention now turns to finding a replacement. Arsenal have been linked with a number of candidates this summer with the latest being Wolves’ Portugal international Pedro Neto. While Arteta wouldn’t be drawn on specific names, he reiterated the club’s commitment to trying to execute a long-standing plan.

“If we can implement the plan that we have, we will try to do it. In that plan, that’s something that could happen, it’s a reality and we’ve been preparing the last two months in order to achieve that, whether it’s possible or not, we will see.

“At the start of the window, we signed players before getting other players out. Now we’ve done something different. We’ve let a player go and will maybe be able to recruit somebody. But it’s not a guarantee because the player is still not here. What I guarantee is the day that window closes, for me this is the best team in the world and I will try to get the best out of them.”

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Just one Neto, give him to me…

cannon and ball and arse'n'all

Forget Neto, Diaby is the one. Not only does Diaby have a higher ceiling (in my opinion), but he could also be better for squad dynamics. Saliba is the only French speaker left in the squad (albeit Gabriel can speak some French), what better way to convince Saliba to stay than signing Diaby who has come up with him through France U21s and now the senior squad… Diaby felt like a difficult deal, he’ll want to cement his place in the France WC squad and a move could risk that (similar to why Big Willy was desperate for first team… Read more »


So you’re saying to sign a player just because he could be good pals with Saliba based on them having same nationality.

Edu take notes.

cannon and ball and arse'n'all

No. I am saying I’d prefer him to Neto because I believe he has a higher ceiling (and he may help us retain Saliba.) At 20 Diaby registered 10 goals and 15 assists. At 21 Diaby registered 17 goals and 14 assists. This season, despite being on the losing team every match, on sofascore Diaby got a 7,9 rating in a 2 1 home loss to Augsburg with no goal or assist (team average of 6.9). In the loss to Dortmund he got a 7.4 no goal or assist – again their best player against team average of 6.6. You… Read more »


No, he gave other valid reasons, it’s a long post, read it.

Emi Rates

Cor, wouldn’t that be good?

Johnny 4 Hats

I like that we are now replacing individuals who didn’t really play a massive part in our season with very good players. Gabriel Jesus replaces a striker who lost his place to a youth graduate in February. Zinchenko replaces a player who was never really trusted, even when Tierney was injured. If we get a good WF we will have replaced a player who Arteta blatantly did not want to put on the field. And then in Vieira we have a hugely talented utility player. That’s what really creates depth and it’s great to see. We basically have four more… Read more »

A Different George

I think the changes are effectively bigger than that, because although the new players can be one for one replacements, they also can change the way we play. For much of last season, only the choice of Martinelli or Smith Rowe allowed any real variation. Now, Zinchenko’s presence can change Xhaka’s role, Gabriel Jesus can play in a genuine 4-3-3 or in a 4-2-3-1 (ie, with Odegaard as an 8 or as a 10), Saliba’s presence allows tremendous flexibility in the back (maybe even allowing Ben White to act as a replacement for Partey, at least in some matches).

Johnny 4 Hats

Totally agree. And I completely forgot about Saliba! How could I?

That’s another body we didn’t have last season and, as you say, really opens up our options at the back.


Good luck to Pepe in Nice, just not worked out for either party to be honest….


I live what Arteta had to say about him…. very humane

Martinelli's bandage

That short clip this week of Viera in training was really encouraging. Maybe seeing him at 100% pace reassured them that he could be our backup right wing and hence let Pepe go. A new signing would be really welcome but I just have a feeling about Viera. I think he is the ace up our sleeve.


Communication seems to be his key problem.

Buffalo Head

Communication and lack of understanding of the premier league’s style of playing football. He would have succeeded in La Liga


He’s just not really a big team player. He’s a counter attacking footballer that becomes almost unplayable when teams try to build possession. He’s the type of player that does will in fringe teams and struggles when moved up to the top level.

Wildosaurus rex

Had he went to palace, he would’ve been better than Zaha


Pepe is best suited in a counter-attacking setup. Lets just cut our losses as much as we can.

Boy Bastin

Doesn’t look like anyone was remotely interested in buying him so a loan was the only option with two years left on his contract. I read that Pepe offered to take a pay cut to push through the loan – unlike some other Arsenal players in similar circumstances – so good on him for that.

With only a year left after the loan period finishes, is it likely he’ll come back us? I doubt it. Let’s hope we don’t have to resort to another contract cancellation though. We’ll see.

Buffalo Head

Where did you hear about the pay cut?


Last I read he was reluctant to take a pay cut. Would also like to know who is reporting that he has now offered to take one.


So with 38 games in the prem, league cup, FA cup and European games he couldn’t guarantee him game time? That’s a strange one. Its obvious he doesn’t fancy the player even if he plays well or not nore regards the amount of money the club paid and are still paying for the player. Regards to Neto and the other wingers we are being linked to there’s nothing they will bring to his team that pepe isn’t already providing or able to provide if given more minutes on the pitch. Arsene won’t have treated a £72m player this way, he… Read more »

Umair Mirxa

You will just beat Arteta over the head with any stick you can find, won’t you? First of all, no player should be guaranteed any game time. The team selected for every match should be one best capable of winning it. Secondly, the manager did not say he couldn’t guarantee any game time. He said he couldn’t guarantee enough to keep Pepe happy. Third, he clearly likes the player but cannot fit him into the system. So, what’s he supposed to do? Keep him around, not playing, simply because the club paid a huge fee for him? Fourth, none of… Read more »

Joseph Furey

Think I’m going to trust Mikel on this one, though respect to the man with the imaginary hotline to Wenger


Pepe had individual moments of brilliance, for which we are thankful for, but struggled overall. It’s strange that you think the amount of minutes he played for is would suddenly make the Premier League something he would prosper in.

Against Villa, he is exactly the type of player you want to bring on to push them back – at least in theory. He couldn’t execute what that type of player should do and it could have easily cost is 2 points.

A Different George

The way I understand Arteta, he couldn’t guarantee Pepe the game time that Pepe *wanted* (and needed, really, for his career). That’s a bit different than saying “well, you can play in the League Cup and the Europe group stages.”


I kinda agree with you here, he deserved more and to me he looks more exciting, unpredictable and more flair than Neto. And in that position, you want such players.


Unai Emery wanted Zaha but Raul went for Pepe. On hindsight Zaha would have been a much better choice but Saka may not have the opportunity to evolve.

Emi Rates

Meanwhile I hear Maupay is heading for Everton. He fits right in with the hapless dross they are known to overspend on.

A Different George

If they overpay him enough, he can send Guendouzi a picture of his contract.


I hope he titles the post ‘look, I’ve got more pay’

Emi Rates

Personally I’d prefer he sends Leno a picture of his leg in a cast after some brute has done to him what he did to Leno.


Rather disappointed in Pepe. Seems to have all tricks to make for an excellent wide player but lacked requisite application. Perhaps arriving at The Arsenal deemed his desire and ambitions. Whatever the case all the best to him.

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