Nicolas Pepe had a tough first season at Arsenal.
Nicolas Pepe had a tough first season at Arsenal and will be better off for it.
The club’s record signing has struggled to get going since signing for £72 million from Lille last summer in a club record move.
One of manager Mikel Arteta’s big dilemmas is to work out how to get the best out of him.
A solution which they could consider is to choose to sign his former Lille teammate Jonathan Ikone.
Ikone is reportedly attracting interest from Everton and Manchester United, report French outlet LeFoot, and is being valued at £62 million.
ESPN reported earlier this season when dissecting Pepe’s form: “At Lille, he had players around him (Jonathan Ikone and Jonathan Bamba) who developed incredible understanding and chemistry with him.”
Ikone is just 21-years-old and is already a France international.
This season he has scored four goals and provided six assists, largely coming from a central attacking role.
The figures are unspectacular, but he has helped Lille to a good record, with the club sitting fourth in the league.
While his price is too high, certainly in this market, Arsenal should still consider the benefits of signing him as a long-term Mesut Ozil replacement, who could help unlock Pepe.
If Arsenal want to get the best out of their big money attacker, why not double down and pay up for a player who has proven he can click with him?
The Premier League is different, as Pepe has discovered, but this is one avenue open to the Gunners as they assess how to build for next season.