Arsenal winger Nicolas Pepe has admitted that this season, under Mikel Arteta, he is disappointed by his lack of starting opportunities. He said playing more would give him a reason to ‘smile again ‘ and has indicated that he is not pleased with the Gunners at the moment as a result.
Since his £72 m arrivals from Lille in the summer of 2019, Pepe, who remains Arsenal’s club-record signing, has made 12 appearances in all competitions so far in 2020/21. But most of his six stars were in the Europa League or Carabao Cup, while in the Premier League he only played once.
In his favored right-wing position, Willian’s 32-year-old fee transfer was largely used instead.
“It’s my dream to play more. Get a little more fun playing. A gambler who plays is satisfied. I’d like to play a little bit more for me to find a smile again,’ Pepe told Canal+ this week while on international duty with Ivory Coast.
Pepe has said that during a match or training session, one of his greatest struggles is giving his best, only to be told that he will be back on the bench for the next game.
Arteta wants me to be 100% concentrated for 90 minutes of the game. Afterward, during training, I see that the following weekend I will be a substitute,’ said the player. “But he also has assistants who are there for that, but the coach talks to me. But being on the bench is difficult for any player.”
Arteta himself has discussed Pepe’s absences from the beginning XI twice recently, stating that he is waiting to be more reliable and justify selection for the 25-year-old.
After the Gunners faced Dundalk in Europe, the Arsenal boss commented on the situation.
“Pepe was not the first choice at the moment in many of the games, but he played quite a lot of moments, some better than others. It’s about finding consistency. It’s about finding consistency,” he said.