Arsenal’s record signing Nicolas Pepe has admitted that he is not a happy man for not enjoying regular game time at the North London club under coach Mikel Arteta.
The 25-year-old Cote d’Ivoire left-winger says he desires to play a little more to “find a smile again”, noting that a player who plays is happy.
Arsenal signed Nicolas Pepe from Lille on August 1, 2019, for a whopping £72 million which is the highest amount the Premier League club has ever paid for a single player in the history of the club.
Before Pepe joined Arsenal in 2019, the winger scored 23 goals and provided 12 assists in 41 appearances for Lille during the 2018-2019 season. This performance was what motivated Arsenal to go for him. He was expected to maintain such stats at the club.
However, at the end of Pepe’s first full season at the club, the winger managed to score 8 goals and provided 10 assists in 42 appearances in all competitions. These stats did not impress Mikel Arteta enough, hence, he has been using him mostly from the bench in the 2020-2021 season.
So far this season, Nicolas Pepe has played 227 minutes of Premier League football in 7 league games in which he scored just a goal. He has enjoyed more game time in the Europa League where he has played 242 minutes of football in 3 games in which he scored two goals and provided two assists for Arsenal.
While in the EFL campaign, Nicolas Pepe has played 180 minutes of football in 2 games and did not record any goal nor an assist. In total, the Ivory Coast football star, has played 649 minutes of football in 12 matches and has scored a total number of three goals, and has provided two assists in all competitions.
Mikel Arteta believes that this performance is not consistent enough and has urged Pepe to do more. But the player told French channel Canal Plus that it is frustrating for him to be on the bench.
“My goal is to play more. To have a little more playing time,” he said. “A player who plays is happy. For me, I would like to play a little more to find a smile again.
“He (Arteta) wants me to be 100 percent focused during the 90 minutes of the match. Afterward, I see during training that I will be a substitute the following weekend.
“But the coach speaks to me, he also has assistants who are there for that. But it is frustrating for any player to be on the bench.
“A super-sub role? The coach makes his choices. It’s up to me to show him that I don’t have that role.”