Arsenal

What happened to Arsenal flop who was accused of “cheating” Mikel Arteta

Three years ago this week, Mikel Arteta was facing the most difficult spell of his Arsenal reign, with his squad struggling for form and being dumped out of the Carabao Cup Three years ago, infamous flop Nicolas Pepe reached new depths in his Arsenal career.

The Ivory Coast attacker struggled badly during his time with the Gunners, following a then-club record move from Lille. He failed to live up to his massive price tag though, scoring just 16 goals in his 80 Premier League appearances during his four-year spell at the Emirates.
One of his lowest points came just before Christmas in 2020, when he was accused of “cheating” manager Mikel Arteta. Pepe was slammed following a disappointing performance during a defeat to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup.
This group of players will get him sacked. I am looking at their performances, I am looking at what they are putting out on the pitch and I think they are cheating, some of these players,” former Crystal Palace owner Simon Jordan told talkSPORT at the time.

“They are cheating the club and they are cheating their manager. They are cheating, look at [Nicolas] Pepe. We all have our difficulties and challenges in life and football brings about its different challenges.

“But if that’s a £72million footballer, then with due respect, I am a monkey’s uncle because that is not worth the money. The way he strolled around in the second half and he showed no interest in the game.
Pepe continued to be a regular feature in the Arsenal side for the rest of that campaign and the one following. But his awful performances made it clear he had little future at the Gunners and so joined Nice on loan in the summer of 2022.

But his time in France did not start well, with manager Lucien Favre singling him out for criticism after his debut. Pepe played the full 90 minutes of a defeat to Marseille and immediately felt Favre’s wrath.

“He’s got to get back into the swing of things. He hasn’t played for a long time in England. He did his pre-season with Arsenal but didn’t play a match, so he lacks a bit of rhythm and intensity tracking back, in the pressing and recovering the ball,” Favre said.
That’s what everyone has to do, there are no exceptions. If one or two players don’t do the job, the whole team has a problem. Everyone has to do it at the same time, defend together to get the ball back and then play.”
Pepe returned to Arsenal at the end of the season, having scored just eight goals and notched only one assist in 28 games. With no club willing to pay a fee for him, the Gunners opted to terminate his contract in the summer.

The title challengers said in a statement: “We can confirm that Nicolas Pepe is leaving the club. We have agreed with Nicolas to terminate his contract with immediate effect. Everyone at Arsenal thanks Nicolas for his contribution during his time with us and wish him well for the future.”

The day before Arsenal announced his exit, Turkish side Trabzonspor had announced they had signed Pepe on a free transfer. The attacker was keen to move on from his nightmare at Arsenal, saying: “I came here to become a champion and achieve success.”
Things have not gone to plan for the Ivory Coast international though, with the 28-year-old fit enough to appear in just six games. He has only been able to make three starts and is currently ruled out with a hamstring injury.

Despite that, Pepe has been able to score twice and register an assist, with Trabzonspor sitting fourth in the Super Lig. But remains far from a player who was once worth £72m, with little chance of him ever hitting his previous heights.

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