Mikel Arteta reveals why Arsenal’s record signing Nicolas Pepe has struggled in debut season

Pepe had a barnstorming year in Ligue 1 last season, scoring 22 league goals (Picture: Getty Images)
Pepe had a barnstorming year in Ligue 1 last season, scoring 22 league goals (Picture: Getty Images)

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta admits Nicolas Pepe is a player that needs pushing more than most, and may take up to a year to adapt to the Premier League.

The Ivory Coast international joined from Lille in a deal worth £72million last summer, but has failed to live up to expectations at the Emirates Stadium so far.

Pepe has just five goals in 27 appearances in all competitions for the Gunners this season, and was an unused substitute during Arteta’s side’s last league outing, the 0-0 draw against Burnley.

Before Arsenal’s game against Newcastle on Sunday, Arteta told Sky Sports: ‘I have been impressed with Nico because he really likes to play, he loves football.

‘He’s a very shy boy who had an incredible season last year, but that was with a very different style of football, with a lot of space, with a lot of runs in behind, with a lot of freedom.

‘Here, it’s different. He is surrounded by other top players and he needs to adapt to that. To come to England and do that straight away, being a winger, is not easy.

‘I have seen players with much more experience than Nico come to the Premier League and for six, eight or 12 months, completely fail and underperform. But after that, they have come back the following season and become some of the best players in the Premier League.’

One player who hasn’t struggled to cope with the pace of English football is wonderkid Gabriel Martinelli.

The 18-year-old forward has scored 10 goals in just 23 appearances for the Gunners since joining from Brazilian side Ituano in the summer.

But, Arteta has warned the youngster he may have to handle increased attention from opposition defenders due to his glistening reputation.

MORE: Gabriel Magalhaes sends message to Mikel Arteta after failed Arsenal move

MORE: Alexandre Lacazette promises a big improvement at Arsenal under MIkel Arteta

No comments