Category Archives: Transfer Gossip

Pepe to OGC Nice: Good Move for the Player and the Club

Arsenal: Nicolas Pepe genuinely lost his starting spot

Pepe’s current statistical records at Arsenal reads – 112 appearances, 27 goals, 14 assists. 

This is certainly not an amazing return from a player that joined the club for a record fee of £72m in the summer of 2019. In the second episode of the Gooner Daily Podcast, I discussed about the Curious Case of Nicolas Pepe, where I shared my thoughts about my thoughts on his situation at the club.

Despite being the club’s most expensive acquisition, he 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 has 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 last 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. 

Arsenal’s pursuit of Raphinha this summer, despite signing Marquinhos, showed that the Gunners wanted an upgrade on Pepe to provide better competition to Saka. With the Brazilian opting to sign for Broke-lona, the tabloids reported that Arsenal are chasing Wolves’ Pedro Neto, which is also considered as another upgrade on Pepe.

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. Hopefully, he will rediscover his 2018/19 form in Ligue Un that saw him score 23 goals and supply 16 assists. 

Kudos to Pepe for staying as a model professional through this ordeal. For a player that was signed for such huge money, one would have expected that he would have shown some form of agitation for staying on the bench for so long, but as Arseblog suggests, He’s probably an introvert. 

Pepe’s exit certainly opens the door for a new winger signing, like Neto, unless the club has bigger plans for Marquinhos, that has been tearing it up at Under-21 level. We also have Fabio Vieira, that’s adept on the right flank, but one thing is for sure – Saka needs competition and we can only hope he gets it this season.

Sayonara.

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Gabriel Jesus: The Forward Way, Truth and Arsenal Life

Gabriel Jesus, Man City, UCL 2021-22

Gabriel Jesus celebrating a goal

Gabriel Jesus has been heavily linked with Arsenal all summer long and Arsenal fans remained hopeful that the deal for the Brazilian forward would be sealed on time as he had garnered interest from other clubs like Juventus, Real Madrid and Chelsea. Despite scoring close to a century of goals (95) in Manchester City, winning four Premier League titles, one FA Cup, three Carabao Cups and two FA Community Shields, Gabriel Jesus looked closer to the exit door following the imminent arrivals of Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez this summer.

Even with the interest from other clubs, Gabriel Jesus made it clear that he wanted to work under his former assistant manager, Mikel Arteta, and with Edu showcasing his fledgling Brazilian connections, it was a matter of time for Arsenal fans to get wind of the news they had hoped for all summer. Arsenal has agreed personal terms with Gabriel Jesus and reached a fee with Manchester City to sign the forward on a permanent basis. It is believed that Gabriel Jesus will cost around £45 million, and even though he has only one year left on his contract, it still remains a fantastic piece of business.

At 25, Gabriel Jesus will be the spearhead of an exciting Arsenal attack that has the likes of Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Emile Smith Rowe and the new recruit from FC Porto, Fabio Vieira. The Brazilian striker will be backed up by Eddie Nketiah, that recently signed a new deal to extend his stay in the club.

Gabriel Jesus also comes in with a lot of Premier League and international experience, as well as the versatility that Mikel Arteta craves from his players. In his time at Manchester City, Gabriel Jesus could fit anywhere across the forward line, and was used to great effect by Pep Guardiola. He has scored 19 goals in 56 caps for the Selecao, winning the 2019 Copa America.

Gabriel Jesus also arrives at the time the club let go of attacking talents like former captain, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the recently departed Alexandre Lacazette, that scored 163 goals in their combined stay in North London. He would know that the fans expect him to hit the ground running almost immediately, and I’m confident that he would get the ammunition he needs from our attacking midfield talent to score the goals that would propel his Arsenal career to the trajectory expected from him. 

Arsenal fans would be patiently waiting for the announcement on the official site, but this will be one of the most decisive signings in Arteta’s tenure at the club – the forward way, truth and Arsenal life.

Sayonara.

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Raphinha to Arsenal – Buy or Pass?

Leeds 'expecting approach from Arsenal' for Raphinha as Gunners look to  hijack Barca move

Raphinha against Arsenal last season

Raphinha has been a sensation in Premier League since his big money move from Rennes two seasons ago and his influence increased at the club with the long term injury suffered by their star striker, Patrick Bamford, scoring 11 Premier League goals in 35 appearances.

As expected, Raphinha rose to talismanic status and almost suffered the ignominy of relegation from the League, but the Leeds hierarchy ended the rot with the dismissal of the eccentric Marcelo Bielsa, and hired Jesse Marsch confirmed the club’s Premier League status for an additional season.

With Bukayo Saka playing every game while fit and Nicolas Pepe not showing any consistency or fight to challenge the young Englishman, it is evident that Arsenal would need a new winger, so it was no surprise when Arsenal was heavily linked with a move for Raphinha, even though it has also been reported that Barcelona are planning to sign the winger.

Arsenal has already secured the services of Fabio Vieira and are also linked with a move for Lisandro Martinez, so adding Raphinha to the mix clearly shows Arsenal’s intent to bolster the squad this summer ahead of what would be a grueling Premier League, Europa League and World Cup campaign.

Raphinha will clearly be an upgrade on Pepe and challenge Saka for a first team berth on the right flank, as I will not expect a player of his quality to be content with a place on the bench. In as much as I’d love to have me some of the sambalicious Raphinha goodness, Arsenal, in my honest opinion, hasn’t plugged the vast hole that has been left with the departures of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, so that proposed fee of £60m for Raphinha would be better invested in securing the services of Gabriel Jesus

It also feels like Raphinha’s link with Arsenal is a ploy to get an improved bid from Barcelona, that had their initial bid of £47m rejected by Leeds United. Whatever the case may be, whoever that ends up with Raphinha would have an exceptional footballer on their hands – amazing technique, bags of creativity, lethal from set pieces, decent finishing and an unpredictable opponent to come up against courtesy of his insane dribbling skills. 

So what do you think – buy or pass? See you in the comments.

Sayonara

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