Nicolas Pepe: Nice agree loan deal for Arsenal’s club-record signing

Nice have agreed a deal to sign Arsenal forward Nicolas Pepe on a season-long loan.

The deal for the 27-year-old Ivory Coast international does not include an option for the Ligue 1 club to make the deal permanent.

The last details are being finalised and it’s hoped it will be completed in the next 48 hours.

Pepe, who has two years left on his Arsenal contract, moved to the Emirates from Lille for a club-record £72m in 2019 and has scored 27 goals in 112 appearances for the Gunners.

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French football expert Jeremy Smith gives the latest updates on Nicolas Pepe, Houssem Aouar and United’s pursuit of Malo Gusto.

Analysis: Pepe a relic of muddled Arsenal era

Sky Sports’ Nick Wright:

Nicolas Pepe arrived as the most expensive player in Arsenal’s history but departs having left only a modest imprint. The club’s more recent recruitment has been laser-guided to Mikel Arteta’s needs. Pepe is a reminder that it used to be different.

In 2019, Edu had just arrived as Arsenal’s technical director, replacing the departed Sven Mislintat, but former head of football Raul Sanllehi was effectively running the club’s recruitment and there was a clear disconnect with then manager Unai Emery.

The Spaniard had identified Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha as his preferred attacking target. Instead, the club spent an eye-watering sum of £72m on a player he didn’t actually want.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights of Bournemouth against Arsenal in the Premier League.

Pepe would only ever show flashes of his talent in England, scoring 16 goals in 80 Premier League games in total, and it soon became clear Arteta, like Emery, was not convinced.

Emery described the Ivorian as a player who needed to be “more demanding of himself” in conversation with Sky Sports in November 2019 and Arteta saw him in the same way.

Ultimately, he proved a poor fit for both managers, both in terms of his character and his playing style. He returns to France, albeit on loan, as a relic of an era from which Arsenal have moved on.

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