Paul Merson claims Mikel Arteta and Arsenal would “bite your hand off to get rid of” Nicolas Pepe, but believes they may be “stuck with” him.
Pepe joined Arsenal from Lille for £72million in the summer of 2019 but has failed to show his quality consistently for the Gunners.
He came on and scored as Arsenal won a crucial clash with Wolves last time out, leading some to suggest he could play a big hand in the rest of the season as Arteta’s side look to clinch a place in the top four.
He wrote in his Daily Star column: ‘Don’t expect Nicolas Pepe to suddenly become an Arsenal legend – he’s a £72m sub they’d bite your hand off to get rid of.
‘But even though he came on and won them the game against Wolves last week, you’d be lucky to get £30m for him now.
‘We’ve seen it too many times where he comes on and looks amazing and then he disappears again for weeks.
‘It’s all about consistency and he’s never been able to find it. He hasn’t put it together enough for me.
‘I don’t buy into the theory that he’s suddenly going to rip it up for the rest of the season. No chance.
‘He is a classic example of modern-day football. Arsenal have a £72m player who, let’s be honest, has flopped. And nothing is said about it!
‘It’s unbelievable really. A few years ago, if you’d bought a player for that much money and he was sitting on the bench all season, you’d be sacked.
‘I know Mikel Arteta didn’t buy him. And Unai Emery is long gone. But you get the point. And Arteta isn’t getting a tune out of him either.
‘If he was that good Arteta would be playing him. He just isn’t a £72m player.
‘I think Arsenal will be hoping he carries it on for the rest of the season and they might get £30m for him.
‘But at the moment I don’t even see anyone paying that.
‘We all know they wanted Wilfried Zaha instead. I think he’s an amazing player. But they tried to save a few quid by getting someone a bit less expensive and it hasn’t worked out.
‘If Pepe finds a bit of consistency now and helps them get in the top four, he’s paid a bit of his money back and they might be able to sell him.
‘But will he? That’s the big question. They might be stuck with him.’