Category Archives: Transfer Gossip

Finally, Some Pepe to Spice Up that Turkey

Arsenal: Nicolas Pepe genuinely lost his starting spot

Prior to the acquisition of Nicolas Pepe from LOSC Lille Metropole in 2019, there was a very interesting fictional conversation between head coach, Unai Emery, and Head of Football, Raul Sanllehi. 


Unai Emery: Good ebening, Raul. You have worked well with Edu Gaspar to sign all these unknown youngsters like Gabriel Martinelli from Ituano, James Hilson from Reading, Jason Sraha from Chelsea, Catalin Cirjan from Viitorul Domnești and the highly-rated youngster, William Saliba, from St. Etienne, but I need some experienced to take us to Champions League football this season.

Raul Sanllehi: Hi, Unai. Please don’t remind me of last season. It was a complete double bottle job from you. Despite being in contention for fourth place, you somehow found a way to lose four of your last seven Premier League matches to allow Tottenham claim fourth place in your stead. You also had a Europa League final with Chelsea, who had already finished in third place, but still found a way to run you ragged with a 4-1 thrashing. I thought you were ‘Mr. Europa League’ with your exploits in Sevilla.

Unai Emery: The past is the past Raul. Let’s focus on the future. I have identified the player I need that will take us to the next level. He scored 10 goals with Crystal Palace and he can come in to support the attacking talent we already have at our disposal. I need Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace.

Raul Sanllehi: So you need an Ivorian winger? There’s one I can get for you!!!

Unai Emery: Oh yes! I need an Ivorian right-footed winger that cuts in from the left.

Raul Sanllehi: Say no more! I will get you an Ivorian left-footed winger that cuts in from the right.

Unai Emery: Huh?!


Arsenal parted ways with £72m to buy Nicolas Pepe, who turned out to be the club’s record signing, before it was shattered by the Declan Rice deal. Well, prior to arriving at Arsenal, Pepe’s 2018/19 season numbers were phenomenal 

  • 33 attacking returns for Lille with 22 goals and 11 assists.
  • Only the mercurial Kylian Mbappe (40) had more attacking output than Pepe in the Ligue Un that season.
  • 102 successful dribbles and 61 shots on target in the 2018/19 season.
  • Rightfully earned a place in the 2018/19 Ligue Un Team of the Year.
  • His YouTube compilation was pure fire.

We didn’t know much about Pepe, but a usually frugal Arsenal dished out £72m for his services, so we were ready to give him a chance. 

Despite being the club’s most expensive acquisition, Pepe clearly started on the wrong foot as he wasn’t his manager’s choice as an attacking signing – it was well documented that the Arsenal gaffer, Unai Emery (good ebening), wanted the services of a certain Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace, an established Premier League right-footed inverted left winger that would have cost £80m, but Raul Sanllehi, in his infinite fraudulence and wisdom, I suppose, signed a relatively unknown left-footed inverted right winger that had a breakthrough campaign for £8m less. 

Zaha went gone to improve in leaps and bounds for Crystal Palace, earning a talismanic status in the club, while Pepe, on the other hand, has been on the trenches.

However, the disgruntled Emery didn’t give Pepe the Jose Mourinho treatment of Andriy Shevchenko, but instead, featured the Ivorian winger consistently alongside Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the Arsenal attack, and in all honesty, Pepe didn’t light up any fireworks. His opening goal for the club was actually a gift from Aubameyang, when the Gabonese forward gracefully allowed Pepe play the penalty kick against Aston Villa, which he converted. Pepe’s first triumphant moment with the club arrived when he converted two free kicks against Victoria Guimaraes, coming on as a substitute. Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Pepe.

Sadly, things turned really sour at Arsenal and Unai Emery lost his job, with Mikel Arteta taking over, but Pepe still got a chance to feature for the new gaffer. Unfortunately, Pepe couldn’t build on his good end of season form with the arrival of that aged pensioner from Chelsea, Willian. For the life of me, I couldn’t fathom why Arsenal gave a three year deal to a 32-year-old, and his performances clearly showed he wasn’t half arsed, which is why I was quite bemused when he terminated his contract with us after one season to join Corinthians in his native Brazil.

With Willian featuring consistently on the right wing, Pepe had a bit-part role in the team but eventually won his place back when the Brazilian’s form was so poor that it stunk all over the place. Pepe justified his selection and grabbed the bull by the horns by actually putting up some outstanding performances, finishing that campaign with 16 goals in 47 appearances.

The biggest dent to Pepe’s fledgling progress was the emergence of last season’s Player of the Year, Bukayo Saka. Despite being older than Saka and more technically astute, Pepe couldn’t offer more to his game than the Young Englishman – defensive contributions, intelligent link up play, better decision making in the final third and most importantly, the manager’s trust. 

Saka’s continuous sojourns on the right wing relegated Pepe to the bench on a permanent basis and with Arsenal failing to qualify for Europe in the 2021/22 season, Pepe made to make do with three early League Cup appearances, scoring two goals against West Brom and Sunderland, with Saka getting the nod as Arsenal progressed to the latter stages of the competition. It was even worse in the Premier League, with Pepe garnering only 600 minutes from a possible 3,420, with his only telling contribution in the League coming in the 2-1 win against Wolves. 

With these transfer speculations of an incoming winger, it only made sense for Pepe and his representatives to seek a move elsewhere, as his future no longer lies within the Emirates Stadium. The club has officially announced that the winger would be joining French outfit, OGC Nice, on a loan move for the entirety of the 2022/23 campaign. With Pepe joining Arsenal on a five-year deal in 2019, he will have one more year left, following the completion of his loan spell with Nice, with one foot on the exit door on a permanent basis. 

This summer, Turkey seemed to be the destination for Pepe, as he was linked with a host of teams from the SuperLig. He was heavily linked with a move to Fenerbahce, then it was believed that he was set for a medical with Besiktas, which was untrue, as it was denied by the club. After quite the tumultuous summer for the Ivorian, Pepe is finally on his way out of Arsenal after agreeing a deal with Trabzonspor

Pepe was one of the most sought-after players in European football when Arsenal signed him four years ago, but his stock has fallen to the point where the club are having to terminate his contract. The 28-year-old will be looking to kick start his career away from the pressures of the Premier League.

I wish him the very best in his new adventure.


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Partey Out for Six Weeks and Pepe’s Besiktas Medical?

Why Thomas Partey and Nicolas Pepe will have a fantastic season - Arsenal  True Fans

Following the pulsating victory over Manchester United, Arsenal will hopeful that their players in good form will be returning back from international football unscathed, especially with the latest injury suffered by one of the treatment table regulars, Thomas Partey.

Partey’s Arsenal career has been riddled with a litany of injuries, which actually made the club sign a short term replacement in Jorginho, but the club had set their sights on Declan Rice for quite some time and were very elated to get the deal over the line after some intense negotiations with West Ham. With the club doing well to sign Rice early, the British record transfer fee holder blended in with the squad ahead of the new campaign and has expectedly become a mainstay in the starting XI, playing all the games before getting his first Arsenal goal in the best possible game ever.

Having a player like Rice has bridged the Partey gap, thereby cushioning its effect, because the Ghanaian lynchpin remains a very vital cog in the Arsenal midfield engine. Arteta’s remarks on Partey in the post-Manchester United press conference didn’t brim with any form of confidence,

“I don’t know [how bad it is]. Unfortunately he got an injury in training and it doesn’t look good, we need some more tests, we believe he’s going to be out for weeks. We think it’s a groin but can be something in between.”

The Evening Standard has reported that Partey could be out for as long as six weeks, which is a massive blow to Arsenal. With Mohamed Elneny still rehabilitating from his knee injury and Albert Sambi Lokonga loaned out to Luton Town, Arteta can only count on Jorginho to serve as a backup to Rice in the duration of Partey’s enforced absence. 

This injury for Partey will see him miss the following matches – Four Premier League games (Everton, Spurs, Bournemouth and Manchester City), two Champions League games (PSV Eindhoven and Lens) and a Carabao Cup match with Brentford. He might even miss the Premier League game against Chelsea before the next international break. 

This is quite a while to be without Partey, but the team has the right levels of depth to manage in his absence. His layoff will make Rice absolutely important for us, so we can only hope our record signing stays fit.

Elsewhere, there is a bit of confusion around the future of our second most expensive signing, Nicolas Pepe. 

He had an underwhelming loan spell with OGC Nice, scoring eight goals in 28 appearances but towards the tail end of the campaign, he lost his place in the team and suffered a nasty injury that closed the curtains on his season. In his absence, Arsenal gave his jersey number to Leandro Trossard, probably with the mindset that he was not returning, but since Pepe came back to the club, he has been no where to be seen, not even in the good ol’ training pictures.

Clearly he has seen his future out of Arsenal, and Edu Gaspar is more than willing to part ways with him, but with a year left on his contract, Arsenal were unable to get him out of the exit door before the transfer window closed. While the window was still open, Pepe was linked with a move to Besiktas, but the proposed move broke down following disagreements over wages and the contract length. He was also open to a move to the much-sought after Saudi Pro League, but the oil-rich clubs didn’t make any concrete moves for his services. 

According to L’Equipe, it was reported that Pepe was set to have his medicals in Paris ahead of a move to Besiktas. Unlike the Premier League, the Turkish SuperLig’s transfer window closes on September 15th, so the move for Pepe was very possible. However, it would mean that the club had made an official bid to Arsenal for his services, or Arsenal had taken the Aubameyang / Mustafi / Kolasinac / Papastatopoulos / Willian route to terminate his contract, allowing him to leave on a free transfer.

However, Sport Witness has reported that Besiktas has denied conducting any medicals for Pepe which has brought the whole situation into bedlam. There is no legit news from Pepe’s camp on the matter, as it will be expected that his agent is on the streets, trying to cook up a move for his client before all transfer windows finally close. 

Either ways, it’s quite a shame to see how far Pepe’s stock has fallen, and it will be very unlikely to see him play for Arsenal before he leaves. He doesn’t even have a jersey number on the official website. That speaks in volumes.


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Thoughts on Arsenal’s Transfer Deadline Day Deals

Crystal Palace complete signing of Arsenal star who is now on 'right side'  of divide

Mikel Arteta and Edu Gaspar had an alignment to trim the squad weeks ago and several players like Rob Holding, Nicolas Pepe, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Cedric Soares and the wantaway forward, Folarin Balogun were on the potential chopping block.

Arsenal had done great business to bring in their transfers really early with the acquisitions of Kai Havertz, Jurrien Timber and Declan Rice, giving them time to bed in with the squad early. The interest on Matt Turner by Nottingham Forest paved the way for Arsenal to make a ballsy move for David Raya, and the ‘goalkeeping union’ got a nice shuffle with Aaron Ramsdale set to get stiff competition for his position.

Auston Trusty was the first to leave in early August to Sheffield United, with Turner leaving afterwards. Marquinhos moved to France on loan, which was followed by Alex Runar Runarsson to Cardiff City. After a slight break in transfer business for a couple of weeks, things heated up towards the end of the window – Kieran Tierney moved to Real Sociedad on loan, which was followed by the much-anticipated sale of Folarin Balogun

Then there was transfer deadline day.

We weren’t expecting any incoming deals, but there were still a couple of players that needed to be shipped out. First off, Nuno Tavares made his loan move to Nottingham Forest, a deal he had walked out on a couple of weeks ago. Then we learned that Crystal Palace had gathered interest in Rob Holding. I’d shared my thoughts on Holding’s potential move out of the club and even though it was not a big money move, I believe it was the right move because he had really regressed at Arsenal and gone further down the pecking order. After 162 appearances and five trophies with the club, Holding leaves to Crystal Palace with all the respect Arsenal fans can afford to give him. A model professional to the very end, coming on to do a job on the pitch when he was asked to do so by his gaffer and was never seen in the media mouthing off his lack of playing time.

A loan move I also expected to see was Albert Sambi Lokonga, but not to Luton Town. He was widely expected to make a move to be re-joined with his former boss, Vincent Kompany, at Burnley, but despite their interest, that move never materialized. A move to Luton is very interesting and I hope he gets a lot of game time to further improve his chances of finding a permanent move out of the club, because there is no light at the end of the Arsenal tunnel for him, at this point in his career.

However, with Mohamed Elneny and Jorginho in the Septembers of their careers, there might still be hope for Lokonga. 


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