Martin Keown claims “Lille will be laughing all the way to the bank” after watching Nicolas Pepe struggle at the start of his Arsenal career.
As per BBC Sport, Pepe became Arsenal’s most expensive signing in history when he completed a £72 million switch from Lille at the start of August.
Big things were expected of the Ivorian winger, who attracted interest from a whole host of top clubs across Europe with his performances in Ligue 1 throughout the 2018-19 campaign, but he has so far failed to deliver the goods.
Pepe has one goal to his name from nine appearances for the Gunners across all competitions, with some fans and experts now starting to doubt his talents.
Club legend Keown has been the latest to question the 24-year-old’s quality, speaking after Arsenal’s 4-0 win over Standard Liege in the Europa League on Thursday.
As per The Express, Pepe drew another blank after coming on as a second-half substitute, with the former Arsenal defender telling BT Sport: “If you think back to Arsene Wenger, he would have never of blocked the path of a young player.
“But they are in danger of doing that with Bukayo Saka.
“Pepe, is he going to get into the team?
“It’s a massive amount of money they have paid for him and Lille will be laughing all the way to the bank with that one.
“It’s still early days and maybe the player will turn it around but I haven’t really seen what I expected to see from him.”
Pepe’s underwhelming start to the season has also been picked up on by ex-Liverpool and Manchester United striker Michael Owen, who joined Keown in the BT Sport studio last night.
Owen feels the Ivory Coast international has already “gone off the boil” after producing a couple of eye-catching performances in his first few outings for the Gunners.
“We’re talking a lot of positives about Arsenal at the moment,” Owen added – as per The Express.
“But I think there is one little negative eating away and that is Pepe.
“I was excited by him, I saw him in the French league and he looked a very good player, he started the first game and looked like he had a bag of tricks but he’s just gone off the boil.
“That’s a huge investment for anybody but it is a huge investment for Arsenal.
“I’d like to see him come on and play really well today, against an average team, show his stuff and get a bit of confidence. That’s a concern.”