Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has praised Nicolas Pepe and said he expects him to go to the next level very soon.
The Ivorian attacker has put in some of his best performances in an Arsenal shirt in recent weeks. He has scored three goals in his last five Premier League starts for the Gunners. His strong form has forced Arteta to omit club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from the starting eleven.
Pepe has not hit the heights many expected of him when he signed for the North London side in a club record £72 million deal from French side Lille in the summer of 2019.
In his debut season for the club, he scored eight goals and provided ten assists in 42 appearances. It was a particularly turbulent season for the Gunners as they had three different managers over the course of the campaign.
This season, the 25-year-old has scored seven goals and provided three assists in 27 appearances. In the first half of the season, Pepe was in and out of the side due to poor form and a three-game suspension after being sent off in the North London club’s goalless draw against Leeds United.
He worked his way back into the team and has impressed fans and the manager in the last few weeks. Arteta labelled his performance in the Gunners’ 2-1 defeat to Wolves his best ever performance in an Arsenal shirt.
During his time as Manchester City’s assistant manager, Arteta was credited with helping Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane develop into two of the most lethal wingers in the Premier League. The expectation is that he will be able to help Pepe thrive in a similar way.
On what more we can expect from Pepe, Arteta said:
“Again, that he can maintain that level now for months, not weeks. I think he’s done much much better. I think there has been a click with him, even in his mentality, how he’s approaching every training session, the importance of every action in the game and how he can sustain his focus and his determination during games.”
“I really like his attitude. What he’s done in the last few weeks I think it’s been much better. He still has a lot of room to improve and grow and he’s willing to do that so I’m expecting him to go to the next level very soon.”
Pepe will be looking to make amends for his red card earlier in the season when the Gunners take on Leeds United at the Emirates on Sunday.