Nicolas Pepe reveals why he fell out of favour under Mikel Arteta at Arsenal

Nicolas Pepe joined Trabzonspor on Friday || Photo Credit: Trabzonspor/X

PREMIER LEAGUE Nicolas Pepe reveals why he fell out of favour under Mikel Arteta at Arsenal

Mark Kinyanjui 11:56 - 09.09.2023

Pepe has explained why Arteta deemed him surplus to requirements at Arsenal but insists there are no hard feelings between both parties.

Arsenal misfit Nicolas Pepe has revealed the reason he never made the cut under Mikel Arteta after moving to Turkish side Trasbonspor on Friday.

The Gunners received an embarrassingly low £3million for their once-record signing Nicolas Pepe on Thursday which they accepted before allowing the Ivorian to leave on a permanent basis.

It concludes an underwhelming exit for a player who was once the Premier League outfit's record signing. Arsenal paid Lille around £72m to lure him to North London in 2019. 

Pepe initially started well under then-boss Unai Emery but soon faded, while the emergence of Bukayo Saka over the last few years halted his development.

The former Angers star leaves having scored 27 goals and made 21 assists in 67 starts for the Gunners. He managed six strikes in 19 games during his loan spell at Nice last term, which might have led Arsenal to believe that they could receive a sizable sum for him this summer. 

It has naturally attracted criticism from some fans that the club failed to receive a return in their investment on the former Lille man, as the North London outfit have earned a net-loss of around £69m on Pepe.

In an earlier  interview with Colinterview held in July , the unpredictable right winger suggested that his preference to be a winger that stays narrow from the right flank and attack the spaces with the freedom to create rather than hug the line like Saka may have been a reason why he was deemed surplus to requirements.

“He knew my style of play wasn’t waiting in possession, it was cutting inside, it wasn’t waiting out on the right. Before, I was a bit freer. I had to wait in my zone, and I wasn’t like that before. These are parts of my game that he tried to improve. He always wanted to help me with all of that,” Pepe said.

The Ivorian insists that there were no hard feelings on Arteta given he tried to help him improve this aspect of his game.

“It’s not true that he labelled me. Not true at all. He helped me in every way, on a tactical level, in terms of game intelligence because his philosophy requires a lot of intelligence.”

Pepe enjoyed a fine, if unspectacular 2020/21 season, impressing on the left wing while Saka made the right wing his own after former Chelsea star Willian flattered to deceive after signing for the club.

“At the end of the first season, he spoke with me and told me to do this or that. The second season comes along, I was a substitute. I was going mad. How could I be a substitute when he said he counted on me? Everything is spinning in your head," he added.

“I was a substitute for [what felt like] 10 matches. It was at the time when they signed Willian. He is a number 10 or a winger. But he plays on the wing for like 11 or 12 matches in a row. My head turned, knowing that I had spoken with the coach and it wasn’t like that.”

“But that improved in the sense that he gave me a chance, I scored against Sheffield United at the Emirates. The confidence started to come back. I started to speak better, but it was a bit cold. I started to speak to agents, but we didn’t see each other like before. But it improved. “

At the age of 28, Pepe is now ready to embark on a new challenge, though there will be no European football to participate in during his spell with Trabzonspor, who have begun the new Super Lig season with two wins and as many losses.