By Muambo Edward
Football Writer, kick442.com Cameroon
24 year old Ivorian winger Nicolas Pepe joint Arsenal in the summer from French Ligue 1 runners-up, Lille for an unprecedented £72 million for an African player.
His very accomplished season with the French club that saw him score 21 league goals and provide 19 assists made him one of the most wanted players in Europe.
Pepe has failed to take the big-money move under his stride as he is struggling for game time and under performing.
He has managed just a goal in 10 appearances in all competitions for the Gunners so far and has only completed 90 minutes in one game in the Premier League.
Legendary Arsenal coach Arsene Winger has voiced his concerns over the player’s struggles.
Wenger, who led Arsenal to three Premier titles in his 21 year stay at the helm of the team thinks that with the emergence of a hugely talented group of youngsters coming through the Arsenal Academy, the likes of Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, it will not be long before Pepe starts feeling the pressure of getting into Unai Emery’s team every weekend.
“I like the player, and I thought it was a good decision [to sign him],” Wenger told Omnisport.
“He has not yet completely adapted and you have to give him some time. He looks a little bit to be playing not with the freedom he did in France at the moment.
“I see some characteristics of his game, especially off the ball, that don’t happen at the moment. On the other hand, I must say we have good young players who can play on the flanks, [and] and that he will have a fight to keep his position.”
It is important that Pepe ups his game and live up to the expectations that come with such a big money move. For that to happen, he must put the transfer tag behind him and concentrate on his football.
He struggled to hit top form in the 2019 AFCON in Egypt with the Elephants of Ivory Coast and has only shown glimpses of his immense talent in an Arsenal shirt.
Africa and Ivory Coast will be hoping that their most expensive pair of legs can live up to expectations, for like its is often said; to whom much is given, much is expected.
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