Arsenal are reportedly trying to offload club-record signing Nicolas Pepe (Daily Star).
Pepe joined Arsenal in the summer of 2019 from Lille for a staggering £72m transfer fee. Since then, he has netted 12 goals in 56 appearances in all competitions, most recently opening the scoring in their 3-0 Europa League triumph over Molde.
Since coming to the Emirates, the Ivorian has shown flashes of potential without ever consistently producing the goods. Last weekend’s red card against Leeds United has done little to keep the critics quiet.
Manager Mikel Arteta came out in support of his player after the win against Molde, claiming that he put in a “great performance”, while adding that he needs to “keep improving”.
However, the Arsenal hierarchy seem to see the situation differently. According to the Daily Star, the Gunners boardroom have accepted that they overpaid for Pepe, and are now ready to sell him if the right offer comes along.
The North Londoners will not let him go on the cheap, however, so any offers will presumably have to come close to the original £72m fee.
There is concern that Pepe’s wages could be a stumbling block in any potential move. The 25-year-old is on a reported £140k per week, which has not been backed up by his performances in England.
Arsenal are wary of entering a similar situation that they got themselves into with Mesut Ozil. The World Cup winner arrived at the Emirates from Real Madrid in 2013. After a couple of strong seasons, the German was rewarded with an eye-popping £350k-a-week contract.
Since then, his playing time has dwindled, and due to a combination of off-pitch and playing issues, he was recently left out of the Gunners’ Premier League squad for the 2020/21 season. Ozil eats away at Arsenal’s wage budget, with the club unable to find a buyer willing to match his wages.