Arsenal star Mohamed Elneny has had his say on how good Nicolas Pepe really is after a much-improved second season in the Premier League.
The Ivorian joined the Gunners for a club-record fee in 2019 and found it really difficult to adapt. The managerial change a few months into his Arsenal career definitely didn’t help and some of the criticism that came his way were a bit over the top as well.
Willian’s arrival and Bukayo Saka’s emergence on the right-wing pushed Pepe down the pecking order at the start of last season. His silly red card at Leeds almost made it seem like his career at Arsenal was over, but he bounced back brilliantly.
Elneny: Arsenal star Nicolas Pepe is amazing
Elneny was asked about the Ivorian’s performances last season and the Egyptian, like all of us, was thoroughly impressed.
He told Soccer AM: “Nico is, for me, an amazing player. I enjoy playing with him. I watch him and he does crazy good things.
“When he goes 1v1 and he goes inside and he shoots with that left foot, I know he’s going to score, I know it, because he has big quality and I think it’s easy for him.
“He has so much quality and he does so many good things for the team and for himself as well.”
The Insider’s View:
Pepe has received a ton of criticism for his performances at Arsenal, mainly due to his price tag. However, people completely forget about the difference in quality and intensity between the Premier League and Ligue 1.
The media have made it look like Pepe is a flop for quite a while now, but his numbers are really impressive. He registered 21 direct goal contributions in just 30 starts last season, and 18 in 29 in his debut campaign. That’s not bad at all.
It’s also important to note that Mikel Arteta never gave him a consistent run of games last season. The most number of games he started consecutively in the league last term was four – three of which came on the left-wing, where he’s nowhere near as comfortable as he is on the right.
Elneny is right, Pepe is an amazing player. Hopefully, Arteta starts him more often next season.