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Nicolas Pepe: Arsenal’s Winger to join Ligue 1 side Nice

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Nicolas Pepe who has been left on the bench in Arsenal’s opening two Premier League games is set to join French club Nice.

According to the Athletic:

Arsenal are in talks with French side Nice over a loan move for Nicolas Pepe. It has been believed all summer that Arsenal’s chances of recruiting a new winger in the summer market rested on Pepe departing the club.

The Athletic understands that signing a wider player is Arsenal’s primary focus between now and the end of the window — but they will only sign a player they believe truly improves the first-team squad.

Asked about Pepe this afternoon, (Mikel) Arteta said: “What we can communicate we always do when it’s the right moment. We discussed that we have a big squad and we’ve made some decisions and allowed some players to leave. Until the end of the window it’s possible that anything can happen with any player.

Pepe, 27, has struggled to make much of an impact at the Emirates since he became the club’s record signing following a £72million move from Lille in the summer of 2019.

Pepe’s Arsenal Career

Pepe’s time at the club has not gone as expected, especially given the money they paid for him. However, he did win the FA Cup with the Gunners in 2020, beating Chelsea 2-1 in the final where Pepe assisted Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s second goal of the game.

Pepe scored a memorable goal against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the 2020/21 season where he nutmegged Rúben Neves before finishing into the top corner. He also scored the opening goal against Manchester United in Arteta’s first victory since taking charge of the club.

In 112 games for Arsenal, Pepe scored 27 goals and created 21 assists. Last season was not particularly fruitful with the Ivorian scoring just once in 20 appearances, which was an impressive goal on the turn in another victory over Wolves.

He is clearly not part of Arteta’s plans and a move to Nice looks like the best option for all parties.

Is Nice the place to be?

Nice has caught the headlines recently with the signings of Aaron Ramsey and Kasper Schmeichel. But they have not had the best of starts to this season. They have drawn their first two games in Ligue 1, which were against Toulouse and Strasbourg, leaving them 12th in the division.

The club also suffered an embarrassing 1-0 defeat to Israeli side, Maccabi Tel Aviv, in the first leg of their Europa Conference qualifier.

Pepe arriving at the club would be a boost for them. He is also yet to win a trophy in France and with the players Nice have signed they should be looking to win the Coupe de France or the Coupe de la Ligue, as they are unlikely to beat Paris Saint-Germain for the league title.

The player would be returning to the country of his birth and to a league where he scored 22 goals and made 11 assists in 38 games during the 2018/19 season for Lille, which got him his move to Arsenal.

The 27-year-old has also played for Stade Poitevin, Angers and Orléans in France, a return to the familiar territory will hopefully see the player get back to his best.

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