Nicolas Pépé Concedes He Has Been Below Par Since Joining Arsenal from Lille in £72m Deal

​Arsenal forward Nicolas Pepe has admitted that his performances have not been up to scratch since he arrived at the Emirates in the summer.

The Gunners paid £72m to take the Ivory Coast international from Lille to north London after he hit 23 goals for the French outfit last season.

However, Pepe has only managed three goals in 17 appearances so far for Arsenal, with none of those coming from open play.

Nicolas Pepe

The forward has taken responsibility for his disappointing displays, and says it is down to him to live up to his potential.

Speaking to ​RMC Sport, Pépé said: “I would say that my start has been a bit negative. Based on my own expectations of myself, I expected a bit more. I expect more and it is up to me to work hard and make the difference in each match.

“It is normal for people to criticise me as much as they are doing because I am not making the difference in each match. I understand them. It is certainly up to me to reverse this situation through hard work.”

Pepe is not the first big money transfer to underwhelm during their first season in the Premier League, with many foreign players taking time to adjust to the division’s physicality and intensity. 

The 24-year-old cited having to become accustomed to English football as one of the reasons he has struggled.

“There are lots of aspects that I need to improve,” Pepe added. “Score more quickly, take the opportunities to score that I’ve been missing. 

Nicolas Pepe

“It’s like that, that’s football. I also need to improve on the physical aspect because coming from France to England, there is this box-to-box aspect that you have to take into account.”

Pepe’s turbulent start to life at ​Arsenal continued last week with the news that Unai Emery, the man who brought him to the Emirates, had been sacked. 

The former Lille man conceded that it was difficult to see the Spaniard shown the door.

“It was painful because he is a coach who gave me the chance to come to Arsenal. We mustn’t forget that. For me, it was something painful,” Pepe said.

Pepe has made just one substitute appearance under new interim boss Freddie Ljungberg, and will be looking to get more game time as Arsenal play London rivals ​West Ham on Monday.


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