Crystal Palace are interested in ending Nicolas Pepe’s nightmare spell at Arsenal in January, with the Gunners interested in selling.
Pepe joined the north London side in a club-record £72m deal in the summer of 2019, signing a five-year contract with the side after an excellent season with Lille in Ligue 1 the previous year where he scored 23 goals and got 12 assists in 41 games. But after just 25 goals in 98 appearances for the club Pepe has fallen down the pecking order under Mikel Arteta at the Emirates Stadium.
The 26-year-old Ivory Coast international hasn’t featured since being given five minutes against Leicester at the end of October, with Eddie Nketiah getting the call from the substitutes bench in recent games ahead of him.
Palace were linked with a move for Pepe on loan with the option to buy, and it’s believed that the Gunners would be open to such a deal to free up space and cash in their squad for a player who is out of favour and currently valued at just £31.5m.
Eagles boss Patrick Vieira is an Arsenal legend, captaining the side through their “Invincibles” season and playing 406 times for the Gunners. With his good relationship with the club, it’s very possible that they will have an advantage in any race for the Ivorian winger.
The move would allow him to stay in London, while his international teammate Wilfried Zaha is widely regarded as a top player at Selhurst Park.
With Vieira opting for a 4-3-3 formation for much of this season, Pepe’s arrival on the right wing can allow him to get back to his best which was described by former coach Freddie Ljungberg as “lethal”.
He has great pace and his ability to beat players one-on-one is very good, it’s just the end product that has suffered since moving to England so playing for a team with more space to attack and less expectation could be exactly what he needs.
As Palace continue to struggle in front of goal, scoring just 19 goals in 15 games so far in the Premier League, an attacker with top-level experience is something that they probably shouldn’t shy away from. He will have a point to prove to English football fans and under Vieira could find his best form once again.
Despite a lack of goals, there has been a revolution ensuing under the guidance of Vieira who has engineered wins over both Manchester City and Spurs this term. Adding Pepe, a man who once scored 23 in one season for Lille, would not only continue that revolution but get them into a higher gear, laying a platform for more goals and consequently, more points.
AND in other news, Palace must win race for Sven Botman.