Mikel Arteta vows to teach £72m flop Nicolas Pepe how to be a winger after uninspiring Arsenal start – The Sun

WHEN you pay £72million for a footballer, you are probably entitled to expect the finished article.

But not Nicolas Pepe — a player so one-footed it is a miracle he does not try hopping past opponents.


Arsenal’s record buy is proving a real conundrum as a right-winger who only uses his left foot.

Time and again on Saturday he passed up the chance to whip in a first-time cross in order to cut inside.

And time and again West Ham full-back Aaron Cresswell knew exactly what the Ivorian international was about to do.

It was only when Pepe was replaced by Reiss Nelson for the final 21 minutes that Arsenal finally found a way to break down the Hammers and snatch a win through sub Alexandre Lacazette’s late strike.

So now boss Mikel Arteta will get down and personal with a player who has promised far more than he has delivered so far in England.

Arteta was widely credited with turning Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane into world-class forwards as Pep Guardiola’s No 2 at Manchester City.

So if anyone knows how to unlock Pepe’s undoubted potential it is Arsenal’s studious new chief.

I’ll make him defend where he is full-back and I am the winger. He has to feel when the ball is in a position where you are weak.

Arteta admitted: “It is part of Nicolas’ development that he needs to open more doors and be more unpredictable for the opponent.

“He is working to give us more options offensively and will improve as he has the talent, an immense quality and the willingness to do it.”

But how do you persuade a 24-year-old footballer to change the habits of a lifetime and suddenly develop a skill which clearly does not come naturally to him?

Spaniard Arteta explained: “I’ll show him footage of what we want and on the training ground I will make him defend in situations where he is full-back and I am the winger.

“He has to feel the moments when the ball is in a position where you are weak and, depending on the steps you take, how it affects the opponents.

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