It is finally official, Arsenal have announced the signing of Nicolas Pépé on a long term contract.
Words cannot describe how happy I am. When the transfer window started, I could never have imagined this signing. He was my first choice winger target, but it seemed impossible given our budget constraints and how parsimoniously we have operated in the market at times in the past. We were pleasantly surprised. Out of the blue, Arsenal have shown ambition and decisiveness that has been wanting in recent years, to wrap up a sensational deal that has sent shock waves across the global football fraternity.
Pépé is one of the most complete wingers in the world. He has everything Arsenal need. He is the missing piece in the jigsaw puzzle going forward. Unai Emery spoke to Spanish media last year about building his masterpiece at Arsenal. Pépé is a huge step to transform that dream into reality.
Let us take a look at 5 things Nicolas Pépé will bring to Arsenal:
#1 – Quality front 3 for Ozil to feed: A player I can see really benefiting from Pépé’s arrival is Mesut Ozil. Over the years he has been put under way too much scrutiny, when arguably he’s never had a trio of top quality players in front of him. With the signing of Pépé, Arsenal have a quartet of top quality final third players – Ozil, Pepe, Aubameyang, Lacazette. This would send shivers down the spine of even the best of defenses. Ozil assisting that saucy front three is what we all must live for.
#2 – Team balance: Whilst Pépé is tactically flexible to play a variety of roles, he thrives coming in from the right hand side. Last season, the only player who could go past a defender on a consistent basis was Alex Iwobi. However, he tends to struggle when it comes to the final third and isn’t always reliable enough. But Pepe is reliable. Having a left footer coming in from the right with the overlapping full back, Hector Bellerin making forward bursts makes for real dynamism down that right flank. He fits perfectly into Unai Emery’s 4-2-3-1 system.
#3 – Burden off Lacazette and Aubameyang: Right now, Arsenal are way too reliant on Lacazette and Aubameyang’s goals. There’s way too much pressure for them to deliver. When they fail to, we tend to invariably drop points. Pépé’s numbers last season are – 22 goals and 11 assists. He is the perfect man to help Auba and Laca. Do I expect him to hit these numbers? Maybe not. But I certainly expect him to be double figures in goals and assists. That is something we really missed last season. A prolific winger.
#4 – Will help us improve away form: I know many of you want a new center back to help us defend better. And rightly so! But a winger is equally important. I want to dispel a myth here. People say all the time that Pépé isn’t a great dribbler. I disagree. I think he’s very clever with his runs. He may not be aesthetically pleasing all the time, but boy is he effective! Last season, he was the second most fouled player in Ligue 1 and completing 2.7 successful dribbles per game. We need someone who can carry the ball high up the pitch and retain possession. There is a saying, ‘You have the ball, you don’t concede’. Last season, everything was a combination. We were being man marked out of away games. This year things will change. Pépé is a superb goalscorer. His goal scoring out shadows his dribbling capability, but that does not mean the latter isn’t good.
#5 – Lifting the spirit of fans: Let’s face it, most of the fan base never really anticipated the signing of Pépé . Post the Europa league final, we were being sold things like we have a budget of £45m, and will see very limited activity as a result. It led to a feeling of real disillusionment regarding the direction the club was taking. What has transpired in the last few has changed mine and many other’ views completely. Fans are the backbone of Arsenal FC. Having disgruntled fans, we cannot move anywhere. The fans really need to buy into the direction of the club. A club can never be successful when the fans and board are at war. In our case, many are at war with each other. This signing has the potential to really unite the fan base. We can all come together again, supporting the club we all truly love.