The Ivory Coast international says “we’ll see what happens” with regards to his future beyond the end of the 2021-22 campaign.
Nicolas Pepe has hinted at a potential summer transfer, with the Arsenal winger admitting to being frustrated over his current role under Mikel Arteta.
Much was expected of Pepe when he arrived at Emirates Stadium from Lille for a club-record fee of £72 million ($94m) in August 2019 as the Gunners saw off competition from a number of top clubs to land one of the highest-rated prospects in European football.
The Ivory Coast international has, however, failed to live up to his price tag and has only started five Premier League games for Arsenal in 2021-22.
What’s been said?
Pepe has been linked with a move away from the club as a result of his situation, and gave a clear indication that he is open to a change in surroundings when speaking at a press conference ahead of the Ivory Coast’s friendly clash with England on Tuesday.
“I am focused on how well we do until the end of the season and the club’s target, which is getting into the Champions League,” he told reporters. “Then we will see what happens.”
Pepe concedes he has endured a “tough” time at the Emirates amid a lack of regular minutes, with the 26-year-old’s inability to speak fluent English playing a part in his struggles.
“It is an honour to play for Ivory Coast. The most important thing is to enjoy your football. That is something I am able to do when I get the chance to play,” he added.
“It is happening at international level and a bit less so at club level. It is frustrating not to play. No player enjoys not playing but I have to respect the coach’s decision.
“When a team is winning it is hard for a coach to make changes. Mikel has explained that to me and I know I have to work hard in training to get more playing time.
“The coach knows what I think and how hard I am working. It is also about communication. Sometimes it is not easy to communicate with the language barrier.
“It has been a tough season for me.”
Arteta’s stance on Pepe
Arteta addressed the speculation regarding Pepe’s future in February, insisting that he would like the former Lille star to stay put.
However, the Arsenal boss did also sympathise with Pepe’s frustrations, telling reporters when asked if a man who is under contract until 2024 still sees himself remaining in north London for the long-term: “I hope he does.
“But I understand that when a player doesn’t play he is disappointed and Nico has been disappointed because he wanted to have more minutes.
“But hopefully he can play many more minutes and he can contribute to the team because he has the ability to do it.”