'This boy has fantastic potential': Mourinho is a big fan of Newcastle and Everton-linked PL star
French outlet Jeunes Footeux revealed this week that Everton, Newcastle United and Crystal Palace are all interested in signing Arsenal attacker Nicolas Pepe.
The Ivorian joined the Gunners for an eye-watering £72 million in 2019 but he is yet to live up to his mammoth price tag. He has scored just 25 goals in almost 100 appearances, which is simply not good enough.
Bukayo Saka is Arsenal’s undisputed first-choice right-winger now and that has cost Pepe a place in the side. It’s unlikely that he will get back into the team anytime soon as well, which is not ideal at all.
Newcastle, Everton and Palace could all do with a player like Pepe. The Premier League trio is reportedly keen, but if they need any more convincing, Jose Mourinho’s seal of approval should do the trick.
Jose Mourinho: Nicolas Pepe has fantastic potential
The self-proclaimed special one was a pundit on Sky Sports when Arsenal paid the big bucks for Pepe in 2019. He was asked to deliver his verdict on the Ivorian and he only had good things to say.
Mourinho said about Nicolas Pepe, as quoted by The Mirror: “After I left United, I went a few times to Lille because my friend is the coach there, so I know quite a lot about his (Pepe’s) qualities.
“They were playing 4-4-2 and he was the right-sided player. He knows how to defend, to play in the 4-4-2 as the right-winger, you know how to defend, not only that area but also the inside. He does that very well.
“When he has the ball and also without the ball, he is very effective and very direct. He’s very cool in front of the keeper and I think this boy has fantastic potential.”
Pepe hasn’t really set the Premier League on fire at Arsenal but that doesn’t mean he’s a bad player. He has had his wasteful moments at the Emirates, but to be fair to him, he hasn’t really been given regular opportunities.
Under Mikel Arteta, the Ivorian has never started more than four consecutive games in the Premier League. A part of it is definitely down to his performances, but a bit more trust could well have helped him.
With Saka performing brilliantly at Arsenal, Pepe’s chances of regular game time will remain slim. A move away is the best thing for him and he could really be a star at interested clubs like Everton, Newcastle and Crystal Palace.
It will be interesting to see how this pans out. Arsenal will definitely not get back the money they paid for him, but if a decent-sized bid comes in, it won’t be a surprise to see Edu and Arteta accept it and move him on.