Nicolas Pepe is a fantastic player when played in a system that suits him.
At his best for Lille, Pepe played for a team that sit deep and looked to hit opponents on the break.
Pepe’s pace and power was Rennes main outlet. The man they looked for firstly on that break.
Mikel Arteta looks to play a high pressing game and dominate the ball in the opponents half. Our defence is often up and around the halfway line and the attacking players do not have a great deal of space to operate in.
This means Arteta needs his forward players to be quick of thought and good at passing in tight areas whilst under pressure. Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe both excel in tight areas.
The likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Pepe are players that prefer counter attacking football; not possession based.
Whilst Aubameyang can get away with his technical deficiencies, Pepe can not.
Too often his passing and slow thinking has been exposed. Play often breaks down or slows up when it reaches Pepe’s feet.
Pepe is excellent playing on the edge of the game. He has that bit of magic. Most of his goals come from his own individual brilliance.
But Arsenal can not afford to carry Pepe for 70% of the league games in the hope Pepe does something in the other 30%.
Three years ago we spent £72million on Pepe.
At the end of this season he will have two years left on his Arsenal deal and a book value of £28.8million.
If Arsenal can cash in on him next summer for around £30million, it will be a good deal done.
Rumours are that Raheem Sterling would be his replacement. Arsenal have been linked in a deal costing around £40million.
Selling Pepe for £30million and signing Sterling for £40million would be a very smart move.