Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown has ripped into new signing Nicolas Pepe after a sub-par start at the Emirates Stadium.
The Ivory Coast international has struggled to hit the ground running at his new club following his £72 million transfer from Lille in the summer (BBC Sport).
Pepe, who scored 23 and assisted 12 with the French club last season, is clearly still adapting to English football, but that hasn’t stopped Keown from delivering a pretty brutal assessment.
He said during BT Sport’s coverage of Arsenal vs Standard Liege in the Europa League (quoted by The Daily Mail): “If you think back to Arsene Wenger, he would have never of blocked the path of a young player but they are in danger of doing that with Bukayo Saka.
“Pepe, is he going to get into the team? It’s a massive amount of money they have paid for him and Lille will be laughing all the way to the bank with that one.
“It’s still early days and maybe the player will turn it around but I haven’t really seen what I expected to see from him.”
Keown has, however, been very impressed with what he’s seen from Kieran Tierney, who is already proving to be a popular figure with the Gunners faithful.
“Some really good performances, particularly Tierney, [Hector] Bellerin maybe not quite ready,” he added. “I was out of my seat a few times for Tierney on that left-hand side.”
Keown’s reaction to Pepe’s transfer is slightly knee-jerk, but he could do with finding form soon.
Realistically, Pepe needs a full season under his belt before being properly judged – but of course he won’t be afforded that kind of time by fans and pundits.
£25 million signing Tierney (BBC Sport) certainly looks like a great buy and Arsenal fans are right to get excited about a player who has the potentially to considerably strengthen what has been a problem position in recent times.