Nicolas Pepe’s £72million transfer fee might not seem like good value for Arsenal right now, but the 2-0 win against Newcastle today gave a glimpse of how things might have turned out. While Pepe began the Premier League game on the substitutes’ bench, a player Arsenal came close to signing was on the pitch.
Goals from Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli made it a happy afternoon for the Gunners at the Emirates Stadium.
And while it was unlikely to be in the forefront of the Arsenal hierarchy’s minds when the final whistle blew, the game did highlight a near-miss.
Pepe was signed in the summer of 2019 after scoring 23 goals and providing 12 assists in 41 games for Lille.
He appeared a hugely exciting signing for Arsenal – as you would expect for a club-record transfer fee.
And although Pepe has shown flickers of his obvious potential, 25 goals and 18 assists in 98 appearances has been quite enough to justify the transfer fee.
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His difficulties have reportedly lead to Arsenal considering their options with, Il Milanista reporting that AC Milan were ready to offer a way out in the January transfer window.
It is claimed that Pepe will be made available for a ‘paltry’ fee as low as £25m (€30m) to Milan boss Stefano Pioli, who is keen on signing the Frenchman.
Whether Arsenal are considering selling or not, Pepe’s situation is still nowhere near what it might have been had they gone down a different route.
Back in the summer of 2019 Arsenal were strongly linked with a move for Ryan Fraser, who was then at Bournemouth.
The Gunners were desperate to sign a winger and the Scottish international was said to be under consideration.
A fee of £25m was being reported and that now looks like a bullet dodged for the north London side.
Fraser was a stand-out player for Bournemouth but is yet to make an impact on Tyneside, where he has now linked up with Eddie Howe once again.
He was completely anonymous at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, spending most of the game tracking back with Newcastle intent on defending
Fraser still might come good for the Magpies, but Arsenal must be glad they did not fork out £25m for a player who is now a mere footnote for a team who are bottom of the Premier League and without a win this season.