Arsenal boss Freddie Ljungberg planning talks with £72m flop Nicolas Pepe with winger struggling to adapt

Posted Thursday, December 05, 2019 by

Arsenal boss Freddie Ljungberg planning talks with £72m flop Nicolas Pepe with winger struggling to adapt
Nicolas Pepe has struggled to adapt since arriving at the Emirates for a club-record £72m in the summer Credit: Getty - Contributor

NICOLAS PEPE is still struggling to cope with life in England four months after his record-breaking move to Arsenal.

The Ivorian international has barely made an impact since his £72million deadline day transfer from Lille.

Now interim boss Freddie Ljungberg plans to take the winger to one side and point out exactly what is expected of him at the Emirates.

Pepe, 24, looks likely to be on the bench for a fifth consecutive Premier League fixture when Arsenal host Brighton tonight.

When Ljungberg was chasing a winner during his first game in charge at Norwich on Sunday, he sent on 18-year-olds Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli.

The Swede said: “Sometimes when you come from a different league, it takes time to adapt on and off the pitch.

“I plan on talking to Nico about this because he is an important player for this club.

“I don’t think it’s a lack of confidence. I just think it’s moving to a new country and a new way of playing.

“So we’re going to have a little chat about what I expect from him and how I want him to play.”

Ljungberg, who took over from Unai Emery on Friday, has hinted Pepe needs to work harder in training if he is going to fulfil his potential in the Premier League.

He said at the weekend: “Nico is a very good player but I try to go off what I see on the training ground and I judge a player on what’s being done every day.”

Pepe has, so far, scored just one penalty in the league and two late free-kicks against Vitoria Guimaraes in the Europa League six weeks ago.

Now former Gunners winger Ljungberg, 42, is considering a recall for on-loan Eddie Nketiah in order to boost his striking options.

The young striker was sent to Leeds after Pepe’s arrival in order to gain regular first-team experience.

But the 20-year- old has not started a single league game for Marcelo Bielsa’s Championship contenders and Ljungberg is clearly not happy with the arrangement.

He admitted: “I need to be careful what I say but if a player goes out on loan it’s because we want him to get minutes. Otherwise he can stay here with us. I am working on a match-by-match basis so what happens in January regarding signings and loans is not something that I will get involved in.

“But you asked about Eddie and my opinion is that he is a very good player and the future of this club.”

Nketiah’s possible return could also add some much-needed speed to the squad.

Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Carrow Road was Arsenal’s eighth game in a row without a win.

Ljungberg said: “They got chances and shots on target just from the transition of an 80-yard sprint and that is something we need to stop.”

ARSENAL (likely): Leno, Bellerin, Chambers, Luiz, Kolasinac, Willock, Torreira, Xhaka, Aubameyang, Lacazette, Ozil.

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