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Nicolas Pepe insists he ‘could have been important’ for Premier League leaders Arsenal this season but for Mikel Arteta’s decision to freeze him out… as club’s £72m record buy ponders his future on loan at Nice
- Nicolas Pepe has given an update on his Arenal future after his loan spell at Nice
- The 27-year-old’s loan at Didier Digard’s side does not include an option to buy
- Pepe recently returned from a knee injury that saw him sidelined for six weeks
Nicolas Pepe has pondered what his future at Arsenal might look like as his loan spell with Nice draws to a close.
While Mikel Arteta’s transformed side continue their hunt to land a first Premier League title for the club in nearly two decades, the club’s record signing has played no part after departing on loan to the French top flight in August.
During his return to France Pepe has made 17 Ligue 1 appearances, and has recently returned from a knee injury that saw him miss much of first part of 2023.
Asked what his future might hold the 27-year-old told France Bleu: ‘I’m very happy at Nice, there are still two important months for the club. I want to focus on the last two months and the rest, I don’t know. There will be discussions.’
Pepe also insisted he ‘could have been important’ during Arsenal’s historic title-chasing campaign, lamenting Arteta’s decision to allow him to leave on loan.
‘I don’t know what Arsenal want to do. I still have a lot of friends there. I could have been important for this club, but it’s the manager’s choices.’
Nicolas Pepe has pondered his future at Arsenal as his loan deal with Nice draws to a close
Pepe insisted that he ‘could have been important’ for Mikel Arteta’s title-chasing side
Pepe arrived at the Emirates in 2019 during Unai Emery’s reign at the club, with the £72million price tag surpassing the fee paid for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and making the Ivory Coast international the most expensive signing in club history.
However, despite hitting double figures in his second Premier League season with the club the former Lille star found himself increasingly forced to play a supporting role at the Emirates before leaving on loan without an option to buy.
At Les Aiglons though, Pepe has shown glimpses of the talent that made him so revered upon his arrival in North London, and recently returned to action to help the club defeat Sheriff Tiraspol to reach the quarter final of the UEFA Conference League.
Speaking on his time on the sidelines, Pepe explained: ‘Today, I am back at 100% even if it will take me a little time to find the rhythm.
‘Despite the injury, I wanted to stay with the team and come to training, I’ve always done that. With the series we’re doing, we want to finish well. We lost a lot of players through injury for this end of the season so I want to help.’
Pepe has made 17 appearances in Ligue 1 for Les Aiglons this season, scoring six goals