As the biggest signing in Arsenal history, Nicolas Pepe’s narrative this year has been disturbingly one-sided. And it’s starting to get pathetic.
Arsenal spent a record amount on Nicolas Pepe last summer, and it was an amount so big that they couldn’t even pay it off all at once, and now have to pay him off in five installments over the next half-decade.
I guess we should have expected what was going to come next—hatred, vitriol, disappointment. Everyone can’t stop talking about how Wilfried Zaha would have been better, SkySports prematurely dubbed Pepe a failure, and now Reiss Nelson is supposedly a “threat” to Pepe’s future at the club.
I know how this goes. The media gets their jollies by preying on big names at clubs like Arsenal because they know they’ll get attention that way. But it’s not like the media is doing this to an empty vacuum. Fans are fascinated by the prospective failings of Pepe too.
Nicolas Pepe’s first year at Arsenal has been anything but a failure
Which is what really confuses me, because Pepe isn’t just not failing—he’s thriving. Sure, he had some troubles in the early going. Every single player in the history of the game has had to acclimate.
But Pepe is right on par with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in terms of goal contributions per minute. Pepe contributes a goal every 135 minutes, Aubameyang contributes one every 129 minutes. Those are the two best clips on the team.
Pepe’s six goals and eight assists are also second-best on the team while bearing in mind that he has only played about 1500 Premier League minutes in his first year.
As I always say—what more do you want him to do? He shouldn’t have to apologize for not scoring 22 goals like he did in his final year with Lille. And he may yet match his 11 assist total from that year, so I won’t even factor that into the conversation.
Pepe is proving to be a tremendous athlete and well worth the investment, yet the narrative surrounding him is still determined to prove that he’s a failure. It’s nothing short of pathetic, but what makes it even more pathetic is that it’s nothing short of predictable. This is how it always goes in these situations. Especially when Arsenal is concerned.
They spent big money on Pepe, and even though he is producing big results, he isn’t producing big enough results. Welcome to why the media is a bunch of hyenas 101.