When Nicolas Pepe signed for Arsenal for a fee north of £70m, fans were rightly excited. Here was a premium price talent bought from Ligue 1, the kind of player that rivals have been signing for years. A player who has just exploded onto the scene, and who has to be signed in that summer or forever risk missing out and never getting the chance again. Sadly for Arsenal, all of the potential that is within Pepe has been mostly untapped. The Ivory Coast winger has been a flop, it has to be said, and now looks set to be moved on for a massive loss.
A return to the French domestic league is being suggested, with both Olympique Marseille and Olympique Lyonnais keen to do a deal. However, the financial remit of both clubs means that Arsenal would likely be looking at a subsidised loan with a tiny cut-price optional fee at the end. The other option that has come up is a more dangerous one: selling to Leeds United.
The Whites are in the market for a new winger after selling Raphinha to Barcelona. The Yorkshire club are keen to find an option who is more experienced than some of their current batch. Pepe would offer an option who is more experienced, but his awful form in England means that any deal would likely be very much in the favour of Leeds.
Put simply, Arsenal are likely to have to sell Pepe this year and are very unlikely to see any kind of meaningful return on investment. The player will, sadly, go down as one of the most expensive failures in the history of the club. That being said, the club should push forward and commit to an exit regardless.
Time to cut losses with Pepe?
The player has been one who fans have persevered with. However, he has never shone with any meaningful consistency in the Mikel Arteta era. The Ivorian has been a poor player for most of the time he has been on the pitch. Indecisive and ineffective, he often overplays when he should pass, and passes when he should keep dribbling.
Decision making has often been a major issue, and it has left fans exasperated. Given the fee paid and the fact Pepe is in his prime years, the raw indecisions and mistakes being made are simply not acceptable. As such, Arsenal should cut their losses.
Yes, it will mean taking a huge cut on the fee paid and the wages invested in the player. But when something has gone as clearly wrong as this signing has, holding on for the sake of ego is not worthwhile. Even if the club has to take a minor fee to get him off the books, they should.
While the signing was an ambitious one and one worth making, it has been a disaster for all intents and purposes. Moving on now would simply help the club find the chance to start anew away from what has been a flop of a signing.