Arsenal broke their transfer record to sign Nicolas Pepe from Lille in 2019, but the winger is set for a move away after a miserable time since Mikel Arteta took over as manager
Nicolas Pepe has been on the bench for Arsenal’s first two league games (Image: REUTERS)
Arsenal misfit Nicolas Pepe is closing in on an exit, with Nice ready to take the Ivorian international on loan for the season.
The French side have been busy in the transfer window already, with former Gunners star Aaron Ramsey among the new recruits. Kasper Schmeichel has also joined from Leicester City as the Ligue 1 outfit look to rebuild under returning manager Lucien Favre.
Pepe looks to be next in line, three years after his club-record move to north London. The player’s agent was at Nice’s stadium over the weekend for the game against Strasbourg on Sunday, as Favre’s team made it two draws from two league games.
Pepe’s agent Louis Ferrer shared a photo from Nice’s Allianz Riviera Stadium on Sunday. It was there that he met up with Carlos Bianchi, the legendary Argentine coach who spent time in charge of Nice early in his managerial career.
According to Foot Mercato, Nice have caught the attention of Pepe’s agent and could get a season-long loan over the line. Nice have been chasing a number of central attacking reinforcements as well, with Edinson Cavani a target after his Manchester United departure.
Pepe cost Arsenal £72m when he joined from Lille in 2019. However, he found himself out of favour last season – making just 20 league appearances – and has been an unused substitute for both of the Gunners’ Premier League games this term.
If Pepe does indeed leave, it would mark the latest step in a summer of change for Arsenal. A number of fringe players have already moved on, with Lucas Torreira joining Galatasaray and Matteo Guendouzi joining Marseille permanently after impressing on loan at the Stade Velodrome.
Bernd Leno has also moved on, joining Fulham after four seasons as an Arsenal player. The German international goalkeeper joined Fulham after losing his starting place in north London, and thanked Arsenal’s fans as well as his former teammates and club staff.
Back in July, Pepe spoke of his desire to turn his Arsenal career around, saying “I worked hard during the summer. Change lot of things. I’m focus and determined with @arsenal and my teammates.”
However, after a difficult start to the season he looks poised to return to the competition where he made his name. Pepe scored 35 Ligue 1 goals for Lille at a rate of close to one every other game, and was the second highest scorer in the entire league in the 2018-19 season as Lille finished second behind Paris Saint-Germain.