There is interest from a Saudi Arabian club in Arsenal attacker Nicolas Pepe, but there is some distance between his salary demands and the contract being offered to him.
The 28-year-old has one year left on his contract at Arsenal, and looks set to depart following a fairly quiet loan spell at Nice back in Ligue 1.
Pepe was Arsenal’s record signing in 2019, joining for around £72m, but despite showing occasional flashes of quality, he failed to establish himself as a key player in North London.
James Benge has now reported for CBS Sports that a Saudi Arabian club has enquired about taking Pepe, who Arsenal would be willing to let leave, but they are yet to match his salary demands.
“A midtable Saudi Arabian club expressed an initial interest in Pepe last week, however, there is currently a significant difference between the salary expectations of his suitors in the Pro League and the player himself,” he reported.
“Arsenal are believed to be willing to accept a nominal fee or even consider a contract termination if it helps to get the final year of his £7.3 million salary off their books.”
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Where did it go wrong for Pepe at Arsenal?
Although he was inconsistent from the start since his arrival in North London, Pepe did have spells of form where he seemed to be coming into his own.
He ended the 2020-21 season in fine form, totalling 16 goals and five assists in all competitions, and looked ready to kick on and establish himself as a starter.
However, he lost his place to young stars Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli, and struggled to get a look in whilst Arsenal were not competing in European football. His loan to Nice, which saw him score eight times in 28 games, has also failed to convince Mikel Arteta that he can be an asset to the squad next season, despite the Spaniard describing him as “phenomenal.”
He will likely depart Arsenal this summer, having notched up 48 goal and assist contributions in 112 matches. Although he is clearly talented, his chaotic style of play is simply not suited to Arsenal’s level right now.