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Peripheral Nicolas Pepe
With very little game time at Arsenal these days, Pepe is on the outside looking in at the Emirates Stadium.
The wide attacker made only a handful of Premier League starts and was not helped by the Gunners’ non-participation in European football and early FA Cup exit, leaving little wiggle room for rotation.
The story of last season
It would be easy to leave this section blank owing to how uneventful Pepe’s year was in North London.
The winger made only five Premier League starts in 2021/22, scoring only once and assisting a couple, the latter of his pair of assists being Arsenal’s final goal of the campaign.
There was respite in the League Cup, though, with the Ivory Coast international scoring two and setting up four in only three appearances, with a strong showing in the 5-1 thrashing of Sunderland in December.
He carried that form into the Elephants’ Africa Cup of Nations campaign, contributing half of the West African nation’s six goals before their Round of 16 exit at the hands of Egypt.
Be that as it may, the fact his final league start came in mid-October spoke volumes over his place in Mikel Arteta’s squad.
Any transfer rumours?
While there seems to be little reported interest in Pepe, there is a feeling the wide attacker wants out at the Emirates.
This was mooted last month when it was rumoured the Ivorian had instructed his agent to find the Arsenal club-record signing another club.
With Arsenal’s interest in Leeds United’s Raphinha publicised and a deal for Gabriel Jesus — capable of playing anywhere across the forward line — agreed with Manchester City, there seems to be no way back for the 2019 £72 million arrival.
Paris Saint-Germain are rumoured to be in the running for his signature.
One big hope for 2022/23
Seeing Pepe become an important component of any side, either at Arsenal or elsewhere.
It seems a long time ago that the winger was a danger down the right flank, scoring and assisting with regularity and prompting the three-time Premier League champions to take the plunge on him.
The 27-year-old has never truly settled in North London but his age means this possibility cannot be ruled out with regular match action and the trust of his manager.
A return to his pre-Arsenal form will be utterly desirable.
- Eddie Keogh/Getty Images
One big fear for 2022/23
What happens if Pepe fails to get a move away from the club and Arteta’s men bring in new bodies?
This pushes the former Lille man further down the pecking order at the Emirates and unlikely to get substantial minutes unless they suffer significant layoffs to key starters and rotational options.
Indeed, Pepe may see even less game time in the forthcoming season if Arsenal acquire fresh talent.
GOAL’s prediction for 2022/23
Pepe’s £140,000 a week wages would be a stumbling block for any side looking to take him away on a temporary spell or permanently unless the winger is willing to accept lesser terms.
Thus, we expect the 27-year-old to be stuck at Arsenal for another year as he enters into the final two years of his contract at the club.
This will be a far from ideal outcome for the talented wideman.