Arsenal have confirmed that Nicolas Pepe will spend the 2022/23 season on loan with Nice.
Out-of-favour at the Emirates, the Ivorian returns to France in search of more game time under head coach Lucien Favre who has returned to the Allianz Riviera for a second stint in charge.
Pepe made 20 Premier League appearances for the Gunners last season (scoring one goal and making one assist) but only started five matches, the last of which came in October’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.
He was impressive in the League Cup registering four assists and two goals in three matches but was away at the African Cup of Nations when Mikel Arteta’s side were knocked out of the competition by Liverpool.
Signed for a club-record £72 million fee in the summer of 2019, hopes were high that Pepe would bring pace on the counter-attack to assist strikers Alex Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
While he’s certainly shown flashes of brilliance under both Unai Emery and Arteta – in 2020/21 he registered 21 goal involvements in 47 appearances – his ability to produce consistently has been regularly questioned.
The rise of Bukayo Saka hasn’t helped his cause with the England international deemed far more diligent in the defensive side of his game.
Arsenal had been hoping to offload Pepe on a permanent deal this summer but given the player’s age and wage situation – he’s one of the club’s highest earners – they were realistic about the chances of making that happen.
Pepe made the Ligue 1 team of the year before making the move to London, it’d be great for all parties if he can find that form again this season. It sounds as though Nice will not have an option or an obligation to buy.