Last season, Nigeria’s versatile midfielder Alex Iwobi was at the end of some sharp criticisms from many Arsenal fans despite playing well for the North London Club.
Yes, his goals-to-games ratio was nothing to write home about (a meagre 6 goals in like 52 games last season), but his overall play was top notch: Iwobi created a lot of goal-scoring opportunities with eloquent passes and he was often an outlet for clever interplay of passes among the Arsenal forwards leading to many goals for the North London club last season.
Yet, many of the fans felt the 23 year old nephew of legendary Jay Jay Okocha was not an “Arsenal material” leading to him being sold to Everton for £34 million pounds this season.
In his place, they bought Ivory Coast sensation Nicolas Pepe from Lille in France in a club-record fee of €79 million (£72 million), eclipsing the previous record of €62 million for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
However, with 7 games gone in the season, Pepe has only scored 1 goal with some of his performances seen as underwhelming.
Commenting after Arsenal’s 1:1 draw against Manchester United on 30 September, Arsenal legend Martin Keown said: “If I had to guess who the £72m winger was, I would have said (Bukayo Saka) rather than Nicolas Pepe.”
A fan said on an online media platform: “Arsenal were either unintelligent to buy Pepe or their scouting staff was blind.
Why will you pay 75m for Pepe and not offer 60m for Zaha? Or why will you sell Iwobi for this guy?
Iwobi already has 2 goals and maybe 2 assist this season. Is it that Arsenal didn’t do due diligence before buying him?”
Nicolas Pepe himself was quoted by a media outlet as saying: "I have not been as effective as normal in terms of my statistics and strike rate.
They are not what they were when I played for Lille. I need my confidence to return.”
Arsenal fans as well will be hoping that Pepe’s confidence returns sooner rather than later.