Arsenal legend and Sky Sports pundit Alan Smith has questioned Nicolas Pepe’s Gunners future in wake of Willian’s reportedly imminent arrival at the Emirates Stadium.
The 25-year-old arrived with plenty of expectations given his 22 goals and 11 assists for Lille in Ligue 1 the previous season.
While there were moments of brilliance and some great individual performances, Pepe wasn’t able to put in consistently great displays week in, week out.
And with Willian now reportedly on the verge of completing a move to Arsenal, Smith thinks there’ll be a lot of pressure on Pepe should the move be confirmed.
“One thing is for sure, as a right-sided attacker, his arrival asks immediate questions of Nicolas Pepe, signed at exorbitant cost this time last year,” Smith wrote on Sky Sports.
“The Ivory Coast winger has blown hot and cold so far, which is not a great quality in Arteta’s book.
“Undoubtedly talented, Pepe has got to kick on if he’s going to survive because, in the short term at least, Willian can provide great know-how and quality on that right side.”
Should the Willian move be confirmed, this would indeed put pressure on Pepe, but it’s worth remembering that not all players hit the ground running in their first season at a new club, or indeed in a new league.
Just like Adama Traore was inconsistent for Wolves in 2018-19 but then became the talk of the town after kicking on massively the following campaign, there could be a lot more to come from Pepe, and added competition is not a bad thing.