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Arteta: Pepe Has Time To Prove His Worth

Arteta: Pepe Has Time To Prove His Worth

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta insists Nicolas Pepe can still have a future with his team.

The club’s £72million record signing has not started a Premier League game in four months after failing to dislodge Bukayo Saka from the team.

He is likely to be back on the bench for today’s home game against Brentford despite Gabriel Martinelli being suspended.

But Arteta refuses to write off the Ivorian, 26, and believes he has seen an improved attitude from the player since he returned from the recent Africa Cup of Nations.

Gunners boss Arteta said: “We have a really small squad and we need Nico at his best because hopefully he has understood that I want to play him.

“I don’t want to have a player like him sitting on the bench and not using him because this is the moment when I can give him a chance.

“But since he has come back from Afcon, I have seen a different Nico in his attitude, his smile, his energy and the way he is communicating.

“I think he felt important again, like a proper footballer that can win tournaments, and I’m really pleased because he needed that.

“Now he’s realised the importance of the end of the season for him. He had a brilliant end to last season and we want him to replicate that.”

Pepe, who was signed from Lille by former manager Unai Emery in 2019, was Arsenal’s second top scorer last season with 16 goals.

But he has only managed a couple of Carabao Cup goals against West Brom and Sunderland this season and is in danger of losing his way, despite having more than two years to run on his £140,000-a-week contract.


Arteta admitted: “I hope he still sees his long-term future with us but when a player doesn’t play he is disappointed.

“Nico wants to have many more minutes and hopefully he can do that and contribute to the team because he has the ability to do it.”


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