Unai Emery tells Nicolas Pepe how to win his place back and explains bizarre Wolves decision

Nicolas Pepe played 90 minutes against Vitoria in midweek as Arsenal drew 1-1
Nicolas Pepe played 90 minutes against Vitoria in midweek as Arsenal drew 1-1 (Picture: Getty)

Unai Emery admits Nicolas Pepe’s adaptation to English football has been slower than he anticipated and claims the club’s record signing must accept more responsibility if he is to win his place back in the side.

Arsenal spent £72million on the Ivory Coast international winger and beat off competiton from the likes of Napoli in summer to sing a player who dazzled in Ligue 1 last season.

Pepe has struggled to win a regular place in Emery’s Premier League starting XI but appeared to have turned a corner with an eye-catching display in last month’s defeat at Sheffield United before scoring two sensational late free-kicks which sealed a comeback win over Vitoria in the Europa League.

Eyebrows were raised, however, when the 24-year-old was an unused substitute in last week’s 1-1 draw with Wolves, with Emery turning to teenager Bukayo Saka in a bid to add more of an attacking threat to his side.

‘He just needs time, and to be demanding of himself,’ Emery told  Sky Sports.

‘We are with him, working individually with him and showing him videos of where he can improve.

‘The intensity of the game and the opponents in England demands a lot of you. He has to adapt to that, and we have to help him so that he can keep taking steps forward.

‘His process of adapting to the team is positive, but a little slower than what we wanted. We have to be patient as well as demanding and what’s more, we have to ensure that he takes responsibility himself.

‘He is not quite at the level yet to be able to play in every game. I believe, and I have always believed, that he needs to play in order to reach that level, but obviously there are also games when other players deserve to play. I use the players who I think are going to help us most in each moment.

‘But we bought Pepe knowing that the first year would be difficult, that it would be a year of adaptation.

‘We want that to happen as quickly as possible, but we are seeing that we have to have patience.’

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