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3 reasons to still believe in Nicolas Pepe

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 17: Nicolas Pepe of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Burnley FC at Emirates Stadium on August 17, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Nicolas Pepe has not had the greatest start to life as Arsenal’s club-record signing. However, here are three reasons to still believe in the £72 million man.

It would be fair to say that Nicolas Pepe has not enjoyed the greatest first season as an Arsenal player. The Ivorian arrived in a club-record deal after scored 20-plus goals and assisting another 10-plus, the only non-Lionel Messi player to do so in a top-five European league. The expectations were high, and thus far, he has largely failed to live up to them. But belief in his qualities and future should not end yet.

Here are three reasons why I have not yet lost belief in Nicolas Pepe.

Arsenal, Nicolas Pepe

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 24: Nicolas Pepe of Arsenal scores his team’s third goal past Miguel Silva of Vitoria Guimaraes during the UEFA Europa League group F match between Arsenal FC and Vitoria Guimaraes at Emirates Stadium on October 24, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

3. He hasn’t been that bad

In 1,591 Premier League minutes, Nicolas Pepe has assisted six goals and scored four. They are not outrageous numbers, and certainly not the type of production you would expect from a club-record signing, but when you consider the struggles that Arsenal have endured this season and the surpressed attacking numbers of every player in the squad bar Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, they are not terrible.

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Moreover, when put into context over the course of his career, his age, and what is to come, there is even more reason to believe that these statistics are at competitive. Heung-Min Son scored four goals and assisted one in 1,103 minutes in his first season at Spurs. Sadio Mane scored 10 and assisted four in north of 2,000 minutes for Southampton and then scored 13 with six assists in his first season for Liverpool.

Similarly, Eden Hazard scored nine goals with 14 assists in his first season at Chelsea, but he also played 2,638 minutes. And Raheem Sterling played just short of 2,000 minutes in his first season at Manchester City. He scored six goals and assisted twice. In this context, then, Pepe is about where you might expect in comparison to some of the best wide attackers in the Premier League.

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