Mikel Arteta to hold private meeting with Nicolas Pepe as misgivings over Arsenal’s record signing grow

Mikel Arteta Nicolas Pepe Arsenal Training Session
The £72million winger has so far failed to live up to his price tag (Picture: Getty Images)

Arsenal record signing Nicolas Pepe is facing a fight to win back Mikel Arteta’s trust, with the Gunners boss to meet privately with the winger on Tuesday to reprimand him.

The £72million signing from Lille was handed a start on Sunday against Leeds United but was sent off at the start of the second half for headbutting Ezgjan Alioski.

Arteta was clearly livid with his winger’s lack of discipline after the game, repeatedly calling his actions ‘unacceptable’ and saying he ‘let the team down’.

Nicolas Pepe Leeds United v Arsenal - Premier League
Arsenal were reduced to 10 men, holding on to draw 0-0 against Leeds (Picture: Getty)

According to The Times, Arteta ‘took Pepe to task’ in front of his team-mates in the dressing room at Elland Road after the game and will now meet with him privately to discuss the matter further.

Arteta has taken a dim view of such ill-discipline in the past, banishing Matteo Guendouzi to the youth team after he grabbed Brighton’s Neal Maupay around the neck last season.

Both the French midfielder and Willian – who made a controversial trip to Dubai during the last international break – were called into Arteta’s office for frank conversations about their actions.

Pepe will be next in the firing line, though Arteta is not expected to fine the Ivory Coast international for his sending off and is set to start him on Thursday against Molde in the Europa League, with Arsenal’s busy fixture list necessitating a quick return to the team.

Nevertheless, Arteta is far from happy with Pepe and, according to The Times, his latest actions have added to the manager’s ‘misgivings’ about the club’s record signing.

The Gunners actually launched an internal investigation into the deal for Pepe over the summer, which happened under the now departed Raul Sanllehi’s watch, and Arteta is yet to be convinced by the 25-year-old.

Nicolas Pepe Arsenal FC v Molde FK: Group B - UEFA Europa League
Pepe only has six goals in 38 Premier League appearances for Arsenal (Picture: Getty)

Even prior to his red card against Leeds, Arteta was questioning the winger’s inconsistency and decision-making, with Pepe now battling to win back his manager’s favour.

With such a gruelling season ahead of them, Arsenal will not entertain the possibility of loaning out Pepe to try and rebuild his confidence.

The former Lille man did apologise for his behaviour, posting on social media last night: ‘I let my team down at a crucial time of the game and there are no excuses for my behaviour. I am deeply sorry and would like to apologise to the fans, my team-mates, my coach and everyone else at the club.’

MORE : Ian Wright warns Arsenal star Nicolas Pepe he’s in ‘serious trouble’ with Mikel Arteta

MORE : Rio Ferdinand slams Nicolas Pepe and explains his Arsenal struggles

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