The Ivorian forward has struggled to live up to his price tag at Emirates Stadium, but has shown signs of finding form this season
Mikel Arteta claims to have seen Nicolas Pepe “come a long way in the last few months” at Arsenal, with the Ivorian starting to deliver on £72 million ($99m) worth of expectation.
The Gunners smashed their transfer record when luring the 25-year-old forward away from Lille in 2019, but have found value in that deal hard to come by.
Pepe did, however, grab a Europa League lifeline against Villarreal from the penalty spot last time out and now boasts 10 goal involvements in continental competition this season.
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What has been said?
Arteta believes Pepe is starting to come good, telling Arsenal’s official website: “I think he’s come a long way in the last few months.
“His work ethic has been phenomenal and he’s deciding many more games and doing what he can do in the final third in a much more consistent way. So I’m really happy with his performances and now he needs to continue like this.
“Confidence in every player is crucial and every time you step on that field, if they feel secure, if they feel protected, if they feel like they’re supported by their manager and their team-mates, it’s something that is crucial to be able to perform.
“Then with the things that he could do better, he’s doing much better with as well. But it’s all a mix that is reflected in his performance.”
Pepe’s record at Arsenal
A testing debut campaign in English football saw Pepe register eight goals in 42 appearances, but he has bettered that return this term, with the target found on 11 occasions.
Five assists have also been added to the collective cause, even with consistency still proving hard to come by at times.
Pepe has never shied away from his detractors, having shown that he can be a match-winner on his day, and will believe that there is more to come from him.
Arteta will hope that is the case, with Arsenal due to take in a Premier League trip to Newcastle on Sunday before then playing host to Villarreal in a semi-final tie that they currently trail 2-1.
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