Four years after he was signed for a then club-record £72m fee, Nicolas Pepe has joined Trabzonspor on a free transfer after having his contract terminated by Arsenal.
On the surface, the Ivorian’s numbers in north London were hardly disastrous as he notched 48 goal contributions in 112 games, but supporters expected so much more from the winger when he joined the club.
The majority of his bright moments at the club came in the Europa League, although there was the odd flicker of magic in the Premier League, too.
However, after Unai Emery, who reportedly preferred Wilfried Zaha to the Lille star that summer, was sacked and replaced by Mikel Arteta, Pepe struggled to garner the trust of the new boss once the Spaniard’s project moved out of its formative stage.
The winger’s relationship with Arteta certainly wasn’t bad, with Pepe crediting Arteta for helping him out in “every way” earlier this summer, but it quickly became clear that he had no future at the Emirates.
Arsenal flop Nicolas Pepe joining Trabzonspor after contract termination
His Premier League playing time diminished in 2021/22 before he joined Ligue 1 club Nice on loan ahead of the 2022/23 campaign as Arsenal struggled to find a permanent buyer.
Pepe’s return to Ligue 1 was pretty forgettable which hindered the Gunners massively in the summer as they desperately tried to offload their once prized asset.
The player reportedly turned down a move to Besiktas, while his disinterest in moving to the Saudi Pro League was also noted. Instead of letting leave on a pointless loan, Arsenal instead opted to cut ties and allow Pepe to depart on a free transfer after terminating his contract. The player then agreed to a one-year deal with Trabzonspor with his official arrival being confirmed on Friday.
So, that’s just the £72m loss then!
For Pepe, it was a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. His record-breaking arrival was a prime example of the woeful squad planning and recruitment which crippled the club before Arteta and Edu Gaspar started working in tandem. His profile was never suitable for north London, but his mammoth price tag means he’ll go down as one of the worst signings in Arsenal’s history.