‘Pepe is a flop at the moment, but can get better next year under Arteta’ – Arsenal’s record signing backed to come good

A former Gunner doesn’t believe his old club have “found the right position” for the mercurial Ivory Coast international yet

Nicolas Pepe “doesn’t look a confident player” at Arsenal and must be considered a “flop at the moment”, according to Stewart Robson, who thinks Mikel Arteta could be the man to get “the best out of him”.

Arsenal beat a number of top clubs across Europe to Pepe’s signature last summer, as they successfully negotiated a club record £72 million ($89m) deal with French outfit Lille.

Big things were expected of the 24-year-old upon his arrival at Emirates Stadium, with similarities being drawn between the winger and Gunners legend Thierry Henry, but he has so far failed to live up to expectations.

Pepe has contributed six goals and eight assists to Arsenal’s cause in 32 outings this season, but has yet to nail down a regular spot in the starting line-up.

The Ivorian has been unable to consistently deliver the goods in the final third of the pitch, while struggling to adapt to the rigorous demands of Premier League football.

Robson acknowledges the fact that Pepe has yet to justify his transfer fee, but believes he is still capable of turning his career at the Emirates around under the guidance of Arteta.

“Slightly too early [to call him a flop],” the former Gunners midfielder told ESPN.

“He hasn’t been a great success this season so far. He’s had one or two good games, a couple of good free kicks. I’m not sure they’ve found the right position for him.

“They’ve tried him on the right wing where he spent most of his time in France. Then they tried to play him up front for a couple of games.

“Yet he’s got pace, he can do lots of things. At the moment they haven’t got the best out of him, he doesn’t look a confident player.

“So he’s a flop at the moment but I think he can get better next year under [Mikel] Arteta.”

Pepe started Arsenal’s final match before the coronavirus-enforced break in the season, getting 69 minutes under his belt in a 1-0 home win over West Ham on March 7.

Arteta’s men were due back in action four days later away at Manchester City, but the game was postponed amid a growing number of Covid-19 cases in the United Kingdom.

The Premier League was shut down completely after the Arsenal boss was diagnosed with the illness himself, but he has since made a full recovery and is already looking ahead to his first full season in charge.