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Where Does Nicolas Pepe Go From Here at Arsenal?

I think we all can agree on this as a whole.

Nicolas Pepe has not had the season he was hoping for and one the fans expected of him in 2019/20, but what can he do to help rectify that season and kick on in the 2020/21 season? How can he finally show why Arsenal spent £72m on him last summer?

It’s quite evident that Mikel Arteta specifically identified Willian as a signing he was desperate to make. He wanted to improve on the current crop of wingers that we already had and we have also seen that Willian is the winger that Arteta has put his trust in more than Pepe for the early stages of the season.

Pepe has only started ahead of Willian in the Carabao Cup clash at Leicester, otherwise replacing Willian from the bench in the three Premier League games.

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As much as all Arsenal fans, including myself, would love to see Pepe succeed, we just haven’t seen enough from him. His quality on the ball is undeniable and we see glimpses of the player that he can become, but what he lacks in order to make him a world-class winger isn’t based on his quality.

When you look at the best wingers in the Premier League – your Sadio Mane’s and Mohamed Salah’s – while their ability on the ball is still immense, when they aren’t having their best games ability-wise, their determination without the ball is always at an elite level for 90 minutes. It makes them so hard to play against.

Pepe has the same sort of ability on the ball as them but lacks the desire, work-rate and willingness to fight for every ball, something Mane and Salah have in abundance.

We have to remember that making the transition for a foreign player into the Premier League has proved to be so difficult over the years for so many players and we have to make sure that as fans, we manage Pepe’s expectations and don’t set him up to fail.

Another point is that when Pepe played for Lille, he played in a system that was heavily based on sitting back against teams with a low block and then breaking with pace. This would see Pepe played in behind regularly, which is in stark contrast to how Arteta wants to set his team up.

Next: Is Nicolas Pépé at Risk of Being Left Behind?

We all know that Pepe can be a massive success and a world-class winger for Arsenal this season – and for the future of the club – but we just need to see a bit more from his performances as a whole to truly see what sort of player Pepe can become.

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