Mikel Arteta has faith Nicolas Pepé can rediscover form at Arsenal | Arsenal

Mikel Arteta has admitted Arsenal do not yet know if Nicolas Pepe will offer his £72m transfer fee, but he believes the unwanted striker could do well for the rest of his contract.

Hopes were high for Pépé to get off to a quick start this season after he finished off the 2020-21 season on strength, scoring five goals in the club’s last three games, but he hasn’t been able to replicate this form. The Ivorian has played just five minutes of Arsenal’s last four Premier League games, starting one of his last seven, and has yet to break his card in the league. This means that the overall picture since his arrival from Lille in August 2019 is one of frustrating contradiction; Arteta said time will tell when it comes to assessing Pépé’s value and that the team’s overall performance will be a factor.

Asked if Pépé gave value for money, he said: “We will see in the next few seasons if he is able to achieve what we expect of him. But this is a difficult answer, not only with him but with any player.

“I’ve seen players change completely, and even during the season, they have a completely different performance that can be reset. The ‘value for money’ question is very specific. Is it only for individual performance or do you put their collective performance as well? Because paying the player, and you’re in the Champions League , is value for money. It’s hard to answer.”

Newcastle, hosted by Arsenal on Saturday at lunchtime, was mentioned in connection with Pépé’s services but Arteta confirmed that offers will not be available in January. “No, and it’s not the time to talk about that either,” he said.

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There’s little doubt Pépé’s talent, nor the havoc he can wreak with one of his best left-footed players in the league, but his demand has been questioned in other divisions and his case hasn’t been supported by the strong form of Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka. “Nico has very specific qualities that, when he can put it in place, it’s great and we’ve talked about consistency,” Arteta said. “Nico needs to try to do what he’s doing and even raise the level, that’s what we want then the team will be better.”

Possibly Pépé would be a substitute with Arsenal’s attacking options all being a perfect fit. They hope to shake off the memory of last weekend’s 4-0 defeat by Liverpool with a comfortable victory over bottom club Newcastle.

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