Arteta mum on Pepe omission after Arsenal's Bournemouth victory amid Nice transfer links

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Nicolas Pepe Arsenal 2021-22
The 27-year-old was absent from the matchday squad as the Gunners strolled to their third victory of the season at Vitality Stadium

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has revealed why winger Nicolas Pepe was absent from the 3-0 Premier League victory against Bournemouth on Saturday.

The Gunners continued with their impressive start to the season after a brace from Martin Odegaard and a wonderful William Saliba goal sealed their third straight victory in the top-flight at Vitality Stadium.

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However, the 27-year-old Ivory Coast international was not part of the team with reports heavily linking him with a loan move to Ligue 1 side Nice.

Asked whether Pepe had been left out of the squad because the move to Nice was getting close, Arteta told reporters after the game as quoted by Football London: "There were a few players that we have to leave out of the squad, unfortunately.

"It’s painful but we try to bring the team and the squad that is in the best condition to give us the best chance to win the game."

Pressed further to explain how close Pepe is to joining Nice, Arteta said: "We don’t talk about individuals."

Pepe is yet to start a game this campaign. He missed the opening 2-0 victory against Crystal Palace, came on in the 4-2 result against Leicester City but was absent from the matchday squad against Bournemouth.

Last season, Pepe started five league matches but managed 20 appearances in total and scored one goal.

In the previous season, Pepe featured 29 times, making 16 starts and managed to score 10 goals.

He joined Arsenal on August 1, 2019 in a club-record fee of €79 million, eclipsing the previous record of €62 million for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Arsenal will next face Fulham at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.