Nicolas Pepe leaves Arsenal for Ligue 1 OGC Nice

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Nicolas Pepe, a forward for Arsenal, has moved to Nice on loan for the entire season. 

The 27-year-old Ivory Coast international’s contract does not provide the Ligue 1 team the opportunity to make the transfer permanent. 

Pepe, who joined Arsenal from Lille for a club-record £72 million in 2019, has two years left on his contract with the Premier League club and has made 112 appearances for the Gunners while scoring 27 goals. 

Nicolas Pepe leaves Arsenal for Ligue 1 OGC Nice
Pepe against Burnley

While still a regular for Ivory Coast at the international level, the former Lille attacker has struggled to make a name for himself under Mikel Arteta. He was frequently used as an impact substitute. 

With Lille, Pepe had a successful Ligue 1 career, scoring 37 goals in 79 games. 

He scored 22 goals and contributed 11 assists in the league during his final season at Lille. 

Nicolas Pepe leaves Arsenal for Ligue 1 OGC Nice
Nicholas Pepe

He did not participate in any of Arsenal’s three league games this year, which Arteta’s team won in each one to take first place in the Premier League. 

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The most expensive player in Arsenal history, Nicolas Pepe arrived but left with little of an impact. 

The club’s most recent hiring process was specifically tailored to meet Mikel Arteta’s desires. Pepe serves as a memory of how things were previously at the Emirates Stadium. 

Pepe in action for Arsenal

In 2019, Edu took over as Arsenal’s technical director in Sven Mislintat’s place, but Raul Sanllehi, the club’s former head of football, was still in charge of hiring new players, and there was an obvious divide between him and manager Unai Emery. 

Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace was the Spanish player’s chosen offensive target. Instead, the club shelled out a jaw-dropping £72 million for a player he didn’t want. 

With 16 goals in 80 Premier League games, Pepe would only ever display glimmers of his potential in England, and it soon became evident that Arteta, like Emery, was not persuaded. 

Pepe during his unveiling as OGC Nice player
Nicolas Pepe during his unveiling as OGC Nice player.

In an interview with Sky Sports in November 2019, Emery said of the Ivorian that he needs to “be more demanding of himself,” and Arteta concurred. 

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In the end, he failed to impress either manager, both in terms of his personality and playing manner. He is a remnant of a time that Arsenal has moved past as he returns to France, albeit on loan.

On Wednesday afternoon, the French media outlets L’Equipe and RMC Sport reported that OGC Nice and Arsenal had reached an agreement to loan Nicolas Pepe to them without the right to purchase him. 

Pepe shooting against Manchester United

Nice was unable to persuade Arsenal to include a purchase option, but they were successful in reaching an agreement on the player’s salary, which had been the main sticking point.

Nice will pay the majority of Pepe’s salary, but not all of it added Fabrizio Romano. 

The official contract has been drafted, and a medical has been held on Thursday after the two clubs reached a verbal agreement. 

Pepe’s loan situation is in some dispute; L’Equipe claims he will be available, but French journalist Saber Desfarges will only guarantee that Pepe will at least be in the stands on Sunday. Pepe is scheduled to play for Nice this weekend. 

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A winless streak of three games has Nice in 16th place in Ligue 1.

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