A proposed move to take Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe to Saudi Arabia has now collapsed as the player’s wage demands were too high.
The 28-year-old has one year remaining on his contract and was left out of Arsenal’s squad for their tour of the USA, as the expectation remains that he will leave the club.
He entered talks with a Saudi Arabian club in the last few days, and whilst he was not opposed to following the likes of Karim Benzema and Riyad Mahrez to the league, the deal fell apart because of the salary on offer.
Pepe, who joined Arsenal for a then club-record £72m in 2019, looks set to depart after a turbulent few years, but it now remains to be seen who will offer a wage high enough to tempt him.
CBS Sports have revealed that Pepe was offered a €5m (£4.3m) net salary to make the move, but he could not agree to these terms, and the Saudi club have now moved on to their other transfer targets.
What next for Pepe?
Whilst some suggested that the Ivory Coast winger could come back as a squad option on the right wing as additional cover for Bukayo Saka, it now seems clear that Mikel Arteta has no intention of trying to use the attacker.
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Pepe, who earns £140k per week at Arsenal, may be an attractive option to some clubs, but his wages may prove an obstacle in any move.
The winger showed flashes of quality at times, but never found consistency in his game time or performance levels, and a departure now looks inevitable. His manager at Nice, where he spent the last season on loan, even praised his “incredible mindset,” but he unfortunately could not hit his best form.
Pepe provided 48 goal and assist contributions in 112 matches for Arsenal, a record which may not be too bad considering his lack of game time, but he has no future in Arteta’s project, and a departure to a club where he could play regularly would be best for all parties: Pepe could rediscover his form and Arsenal can clear his wages off the books.