Arsenal forward Nicolas Pepe should consider his future at the club if the Gunners can’t help him turn things around, according to Stan Collymore.
The 25-year-old was handed a rare start by Mikel Arteta for Arsenal’s Premier League trip to Leeds at the weekend.
However, Pepe was sent off early in the second half after confronting Ezgjan Alioski and appearing to headbutt his opponent in an off-the-ball incident.
Referee Anthony Taylor blew his whistle to stop play after not seeing the incident live, but after a quick look at the VAR monitor, it was a straightforward decision to make.
The Gunners’ £72million record signing has since apologised to the club’s fans, his teammates and Arteta for his actions.
Collymore was saddened by Pepe’s actions on Sunday, believing them to be a sign of something deeper, and in The Mirror, he claimed that the £140,000-a-week ace looks like he’s struggled to settle at the club.
“Add poor form into the mix and being in and out of the team, as well as carrying a £72million price-tag on his shoulders, and you can see there is a deeply unhappy guy who has probably given up to a degree already on trying to make things work with the Gunners,” wrote the former Liverpool ace.
Collymore also spoke of how clubs have a responsibility to help players and should be more proactive in some cases, as it’s easy to point the finger at individuals when things are not going the way they should.
“I hope the kid finds someone at Arsenal who can help him turn things around, because there’s obviously a talent there,” added Collymore.
“But if not and his problems continue to build, then Pepe needs to be honest with himself and leave the Gunners in search of another football home.
“Football careers are short and hanging around a club that isn’t for you can have longer-term implications professionally and personally.
“Sunday’s headbutt was just a symptom of something deeper and I hope for Pepe’s sake he can find what he needs to be happy soon.”
It’s far too easy to point the finger at players for poor displays or poor decisions in games which result in negative consequences, but obviously it’s not like Pepe has turned into a bad player overnight – the talent is there.
If he’s struggling to settle, or is having personal problems, then as Collymore said, he needs more assistance and help from the club, and once on this path, then the other pieces should start falling into place – but if not, then he’d be right to consider his future.