Alan Smith fires warning to Arsenal star Nicolas Pepe after Mikel Arteta signs former Chelsea winger Willian

Arsenal have signed former Chelsea winger Willian on a three-year deal
Arsenal have signed former Chelsea winger Willian on a three-year deal (Picture: Getty)

Alan Smith has warned Arsenal record signing Nicolas Pepe he must ‘kick on to survive’ at the club after Mikel Arteta signed former Chelsea winger Willian.

The Gunners have signed Brazil international Willian on a three-year deal following his departure from Stamford Bridge. He will wear the No.12 shirt for Arsenal.

Willian made more than 300 appearances for Arsenal’s London rivals Chelsea and helped the Blues win two Premier League titles and the Europa League.

Smith remains unsure whether Willian will prove to be a success at Arsenal but says his arrival has piled the pressure on Ivory Coast star Pepe.

Pepe joined the Gunners last summer for a club-record fee of £72million and endured a mixed first season in north London.

Discussing Arsenal’s move for Willian, former Gunners striker Smith told Sky Sports: ‘It is time to move the project forward by adding quality in certain positions, which is not easy at all when money is tight.

‘Willian’s free transfer from Chelsea looks like the first step, which surprised me at first given the Brazilian’s age.

Alan Smith has warned Nicolas Pepe he has to 'kick on to survive'
Alan Smith has warned Nicolas Pepe he has to ‘kick on to survive’ (Picture: Getty)

‘Just turned 32 with lots of miles on the clock, Stamford Bridge has surely seen his best days.

‘So was this just a convenient move because he has the right agent? Something foisted upon Arteta by Raul Sanllehi, the head of football?

‘Or does Arteta see something in Willian that can improve the team straight away?

‘One thing is for sure, as a right-sided attacker, his arrival asks immediate questions of Nicolas Pepe, signed at exorbitant cost this time last year.

‘The Ivory Coast winger has blown hot and cold so far, which is not a great quality in Arteta’s book.

‘Undoubtedly talented, Pepe has got to kick on if he’s going to survive because, in the short term at least, Willian can provide great know-how and quality on that right side.’

After Arsenal confirmed a deal for Willian, manager Mikel Arteta said: ‘I believe he’s a player that can really make a difference for us.

‘We had a clear intention to strengthen in the attacking midfielder and the winger positions.’

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