Arsenal to conduct internal review amid concern they overpaid for Nicolas Pepe

Arsenal smashed their transfer record to sign Nicolas Pepe from Lille last summer
Arsenal smashed their transfer record to sign Nicolas Pepe from Lille last summer (Picture: Getty)

Arsenal’s hierarchy fear they paid significantly over the odds to sign Nicolas Pepe from Lille last summer.

The Gunners smashed their transfer record to secure the services of the Ivory Coast international winger, agreeing a £72million fee, with the cost to spread over the duration of the player’s five-year contract.

Unai Emery, who was at the helm at the time of Pepe’s arrival, wanted to sign Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha instead but was overruled by head of football Raul Sanllehi.

Pepe flattered to deceive during his first six months at the club and struggled to win Emery’s trust, with the Spaniard citing a lack of intensity and work ethic as the reasons behind his lack of involvement.

The 25-year-old’s form did improve towards the end of the season, however, and he played a key role in the FA Cup victories over both Manchester City and Chelsea as Mikel Arteta began to unlock his potential.

Raul Sanllehi played a key role in the deal which brought Nicolas Pepe to Arsenal from Lille
Raul Sanllehi played a key role in the deal which brought Nicolas Pepe to Arsenal from Lille (Picture: Getty)

Despite his progress, according to ESPN, Arsenal intend to hold an internal review of all their transfer activity in a bid to form a more cohesive approach going forwards.

Technical Director Edu is currently overseeing a major overhaul of the club’s scouting department which has already seen the likes of Francis Cagigao, Brian McDermott and Brian Clark lose their jobs.

Arsenal had already begun to move away from a data-led approach to their transfer business when former head of recruitment Sven Mislintat quit 18 months ago and began to work more closely with a group of super agents, including Kia Joorabchian.

The likes of David Luiz and Cedric Soares, both represented by Joorabchian, have recently signed new deals, while Willian’s transfer from Chelsea is expected to be confirmed in the next week.

Speaking about his supposed growing influence at Arsenal, Joorabchian told talkSPORT: ‘People forget about the previous guy, Sven. ‘He made a bunch of, I don’t like to use the word, but, cock-ups with players he brought in at very, very large numbers.’

He added: ‘I actually think a lot of rumours have occurred and I don’t know why. But obviously I think when Covid happened there was not much to say so people figured David Luiz was the key picture to speak about.

‘And the situation of David because he is a big player, he is an important player, created this vibe of: “Oh, I have such great influence at Arsenal”.’

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