Nicola Pepe

‘Arsenal should have saved money and developed Bukayo Saka instead of buying Nicolas Pepe’

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Former Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspurs manager, Tim Sherwood, has said Arsenal should never have signed club’s record signing Nicolas Pepe, saying the Ivorian winger is nowhere near’ £70m difference between him and Bukayo Saka.

Saka, who is Arsenal’s academy product, recently signed his first professional deal with the club and gt his first Premier League goal some days after against Wolves at the Molineux Stadium.

Sherwood, who showered praise on the academy graduate, said he had outshone the former Lille player. Saka also got another f90 minutes action under his belt on Tuesday night when Arsenal played Leicester while Pepe was on the bench throughout.

Nicola Pepe
Nicola Pepe has been heavily criticized for not living up to his price tag

Saka has played 34 games for the Gunners this season and scored four goals. Due to his versatility, the teenager has been used in both wings as well as at left-back, with fans labeling him as the future of the club.

Pepe, on the other hand, has been struggling since joining the club in the summer, but he has found his feet under Mikel Arteta, having scored two goals since the restart of football after the coronavirus-enforced break, bringing his total goals for Arsenal to eight, with eight assists in 36 matches.

Sherwood speaks on why Saka is better than Pepe

This has made criticisms over him to reduce a bit. But Sherwood is not taking it as he does not believe there is a difference in quality between him and Saka.

Speaking with Premier League Productions after Arsenal’s win over Wolves, Sherwood said Saka had realized his talent, and he knows he’s confident in his ability.

“He knows he’s capable of doing moments like that. I think he’s got the game-time because of his versatility. When he saw Pepe come through the door, he must’ve thought, ‘How am I ever going to play?’

“But let me tell you there’s not £70million’s difference between that kid Saka and Pepe, nowhere near. In fact, they should’ve saved their money and just developed that young boy.”

While also noting that Mikel Arteta has been looking at the club’s academy, and giving the likes of Willock, Maitland-Niles some game time as Chelsea did after the UEFA transfer ban, he said the Spaniard is likely to bring him more players from the academy.

” The kids are there at all these clubs, just give them the chance to play.”

Saka getting more game time with Arsenal

Pepe was an unused substitute against Leicester City 1-1 draw at the Emirate on Tuesday night while Saka completed the duration in a match that he was a threat throughout.

He provided Arsenal captain, Pierre-Emerick Aubumeyang with the final pass that got him his 20th Premier League goal of the season. Unfortunately, the Gabonese failed to return the favour in a similar fashion when he had a lay off of pass for the teenager but was blocked by the Leicester defense in the first half when Gunners were on ascendancy but failed to double their lead.

From the current structure of the team, Saka is now been used on the right-wing which Pepe used to start from.  Starting the club’s graduate ahead of the club’s most expensive player against Leicester that is the final Champions League place is a huge statement.

Ska has now produced 12 assists this season for Arsenal. He is only bettered by Kevin De Bruyne (19) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (14) among Premier League players in all competitions this season.

Nicolas Pepe goals and assists for Arsenal

Watch below Pepe’s contribution to Arsenal so far below.

All Nicolas Pepe 16 assist & goals for Arsenal so far 🥵
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pic.twitter.com/yiPuwjB2DB

— Lamarr ❁ (@Kinglamarr___) July 4, 2020