A very interesting proposition was raised recently by former Leeds striker Noel Whelan. When talking about Arsenal attacker Nicolas Pepe, he suggested the player could be a decent fit at Newcastle United.
Whelan prefaced his suggestion by admitting the 26-year-old has failed to live up to his massive fee at The Emirates. However, a loan move with an option to buy could suit all involved parties.
Here is what Whelan told Football Insider about the Ivorian a couple of days:
“He’s been a massive failure – that’s for sure.
“When you consider the money they paid for him, he’s been very average.
“It’s a really bad bit of business from Arsenal. If they can get £25million for him, they need to be taking it – even if it’s a massive loss.
“Teams will be reluctant to pay that sort of fee for an inconsistent player like Pepe, though. It may well be a loan-to-buy deal.
“He’s really not contributed enough. Whether the Premier League is too tough for him, I don’t know – we know he came from France, which is a far easier league.
“A loan move may be something that Newcastle might fancy. These are the sort of players they will be targeting. He could turn his career around and end up being that big-ticket player. But right now, it’s a gamble.”
Newcastle were interested in Pepe when he was with Anger back in 2017. He joined Lille that summer before his £72m move to Arsenal two years later. A transfer that just hasn’t clicked for whatever reason.
Recent reports have claimed that Arsenal will cut their losses on Pepe and accept a fee of around £25m. That would be a dramatic loss and one they may even have difficulty finding takers for.
Whelan’s notion of an initial loan may be the best avenue. Pepe could fill a need for Newcastle on the right-wing despite his tepid form with The Gunners. He has a decent scoring record of 16 goals in 76 Premier League appearances, only 48 of which were starts.
After scoring 16 goals in all competitions last season, he has not featured much for Mikel Arteta this term. He has only 5 Premier League starts and his lack of opportunities has been a source of frustration.
Over the latest international break, Pepe expressed his disappointment with how this season has unfolded. However, he gave a mature response when asked about his lack of starts stating:
“I am focused on how well we do until the end of the season and the club’s target, which is getting into the Champions League. Then we will see what happens.
“When a team is winning it is hard for a coach to make changes.
“Mikel Arteta has explained that to me and the coach knows what I think and how hard I’m working.
“It is also about communication. Sometimes it’s not easy to communicate with the language barrier. It has been a tough season for me.
“Of course, it is frustrating not to play. No player enjoys not playing but I have to respect the coach’s decision and the team is doing well at the moment.”
While this seems a long shot, it will be interesting to see if Pepe leaves Arsenal this summer and where he ends up. A loan with an option to buy may not be the worst idea in the world though he may not fit Newcastle’s profile this summer.