By Muambo Edward
Football Writer, kick442.com – Cameroon
Like the adage goes, to whom much is given, much is expected. 24-year-old Ivorian international Nicolas Pepe is not exception. Arsenal coughed out a club record £72 million to secure his services from Lille last summer, beating competition from other top European clubs.
With the big price tag comes big expectations and so too is the pressure to deliver. Arsenal must have been thinking they have landed the next big thing, with some even comparing the Poitiers youth product with club legend Thierry Henry.
Six goals and eight assists in 32 games could have been considered a good return for an Arsenal debutant, but not for Pepe who has only shown flashes of his immense potentials, and is yet to nail a regular starter’s place with the Gunners.
Pepe has been inconsistent and still looks wanting physically especially as the English Premier League is reputed to be reserved for men and not for boys.
Former Arsenal midfielder and ESPN pundit Stewart Robson is amongst those who think that the former Anger player has not yet justified his huge transfer fee, though he thinks he has the ability to make that right under the tutelage of current Manager, Mikel Arteta.
“Slightly too early [to call him a flop],” Robson told ESPN.
“He hasn’t been a great success this season so far. He’s had one or two good games, a couple of good free-kicks. I am not sure they have found the right position for him.
“They’ve tried him out on the right wing where he spent most of his time in France. Then they tried to play him upfront for a couple of games.
“Yet he’s got pace, he can do lots of things. At the moment they haven’t got the best out of him, he doesn’t look a confident player.
“So he’s a flop at the moment but I think he can get better next year under [Mikel ] Arteta.”
Nicolas Pepe scored 35 league goals in 74 games for Lille in two seasons before signing for Arsenal. He has scored five goals in 20 caps for the Elephants of Côte d’Ivoire.
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