Nicolas Pepe Profile
|Born||May 29, 1995|
Ivory Coast midfielder Nicolas Pepe rose to stardom in the French league but is struggling to live up to his price tag with Arsenal in the EPL.
Nicolas Pepe is a French-born midfielder who plays for the Ivory Coast national team and for Arsenal. Previously, he played for Poitiers, Angers, Lille and Orleans on loan.
At the start of the 2019/20 season he joined Arsenal from Lille for a reported club record fee of £72million and helped the club win the FA Cup.
The winger was handed the number 19 shirt at Arsenal following his arrival from Lille. He joined the Gunners on August 1 2019 after a successful 2018/19 season in Ligue 1.
Life at Arsenal under then manager Unai Emery got off to a difficult start as Pepe failed to live up to his price tag in his first few appearances. Pepe scored his first Arsenal goal, a penalty, in a 3-2 home win over Aston Villa in September.
In November 2019, Emery was sacked as manager following seven games without a win. He was replaced by Freddie Ljungberg on an interim basis before Mikel Arteta was appointed permanently.
Arsenal continued to be inconsistent in the Premier League finishing in 8th place. However, Pepe was part of Arsenal's successful 2020 FA Cup run, helping the Gunners beat Chelsea 2-1 in the final.
The winger was not always first choice for the Gunners, during the 2019/20 season, but he managed to make 42 appearances in all competitions and score eight goals.
In 2020/21, Pepe struggled to hold down a spot in the Arsenal team. After a red card in a goalless draw against Leeds, he drew criticism from Arteta.
Rising talent at Lille
Pepe joined Lille from Angers ahead of the 2017/18 season on a five-year deal for a reported transfer fee of €10 million.
Pepe was signed by Marcelo Bielsa, and began the 2017/18 season as a striker, having been converted into this position by the Argentine head coach.
After Christophe Galtier took over from Bielsa, Pepe finished his first season at Lille as a winger. He scored 13 goals in Ligue 1 as Lille narrowly avoided relegation.
The following season was a prolific one for Pepe as he netted 22 times in Ligue 1, finishing second only to Kylian Mbappe in the Ligue 1 top scorers race. Having finished 17th the previous season, Lille finished second to Paris Saint-Germain in 2018/19.
During his time at Lille, Pepe was named club's Player of the Season and in the Ligue 1 Team Year for the 2018/19 season.
Ivory Coast international
Pepe was born in France but opted to represent the Ivory Coast, due to his parents' African heritage. In November 2016, he made his international debut, ironically against France as he came off the bench.
Pepe made the Ivory Coast squad for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon, but it proved a disappointment for the reigning champions as they were eliminated at the group stage.
On March 24 2018, Pepe scored his first international goals, scoring in the 16th and 24th minute of a friendly against Togo at the Stade Pierre Brisson in France.
Pepe again travelled with Ivory Coast to the Africa Cup of Nations in 2019. However, The Elephants were eliminated on penalties in the quarter-finals by eventual champions Algeria.
On 4 July 2020, Arsenal took to social media to announce that Pepe was about to become a father. As a result, he missed the 2-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Pepe's five year contract with Arsenal signed in 2019 is worth a reported £105,000 per week.