Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has opened up on the struggles endured by Nicolas Pepe to this point in his Gunners career.
Following months of rampant speculation, the future of Ivorian attacker Pepe was finally decided back in August.
In something of a bolt from the blue, despite widespread reports of financial limitations, the 24-year-old made the move to Arsenal, for a club-record £72 million fee.
Pepe’s time in north London, though, has since proven largely underwhelming.
While he has showcased flashes of his unquestionable talent in bursts, the former Lille man has often looked off the pace and physical requirements of the English game.
NICOLAS PEPE HAS DONE IT AGAIN! 🔥
He rips a free-kick into the top corner in added time to snatch all three points!
Sensational strike! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/HLZ6NVZjaU
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) October 24, 2019
‘Potential to be absolutely top’
As such, despite the hefty fee splashed out on his signature, Pepe has managed starts in just 10 of Arsenal’s 19 Premier League outings this season.
The Gunners’ last outing, meanwhile, versus Bournemouth, saw the pacy attacker on the bench from the off, under the watch of new boss Mikel Arteta.
And, speaking on the back of his side’s trip to the Vitality, the Spaniard’s first outing since his appointment last week, Arteta has since discussed Pepe’s struggles, citing a difficult ‘environment’ for the Ivorian to settle into as a possible explanation:
‘I think it is a mixture of things.
‘It was obviously a big change from France to come here. As well he found a team that at that moment probably wasn’t performing at its best.’
‘The environment wasn’t the best for him to settle. It is not only about him we are here to help him.’
The Arsenal boss, though, was also quick to reveal his opinion that Pepe possesses all of the gifts to develop into a top player:
‘If he is willing to learn and willing to work hard I assure he has potential to be top absolutely top.’
‘[Against Bournemouth] in two or three actions he has shown how good he can be, but he has to be consistent.’
‘The problem is confidence will only come when he plays, but he has to train well enough to convince the manager I am confident enough to play him.’
Quotes via Arseblog