Noel Whelan suggests Newcastle United should ‘gamble’ on Nicolas Pepe with a loan-to-buy offer in the summer.
Nicolas Pepe’s time at Arsenal has been a puzzling affair. The winger started life at the club in a sizzling fashion, but over the years, he has become a shadow of the player he once was at Lille. 23 goals and 12 assists in his last season in France prompted the Gunners to break the bank in 2019.
The price tag has weighed heavily on the Ivorian, who has only come mildly close to justifying the fee. However, he could be considered a failure at Arsenal, with the club preparing to offload him in the summer.
Mikel Arteta is already looking for replacements in the market, with several names mentioned as options. The Arsenal manager’s reluctance to use him in games also shows the loss of trust in Pepe, which indicates the club are ready to let him go.
The big question is, where his next destination would be. Reports suggest that Arsenal are willing to take a massive loss and sell him for around €30 million in the next window. Newcastle United have been mentioned as potential suitors more than once, and the Saudi-backed Magpies certainly have the financial means to pull off a move.
Former Leeds United star Noel Whelan insists it would be a gamble if Newcastle consider a move. He told Football Insider that the Magpies should look to bring the Ivorian on a loan-to-buy basis and restrain themselves from spending significantly on a player who failed to make an impact at Arsenal.
Whelan said, “He’s been a massive failure – that’s for sure. When you consider the money they paid for him, he’s been very average. It’s a really bad bit of business from Arsenal. If they can get £25 million for him, they need to be taking it – even if it’s a massive loss. Teams will be reluctant to pay that sort of fee for an inconsistent player like Pepe, though. It may well be a loan-to-buy deal.”
“He’s really not contributed enough. Whether the Premier League is too tough for him? I don’t know – we know he came from France, which is a far easier league. A loan move may be something that Newcastle might fancy. These are the sort of players they will be targeting. He could turn his career around and end up being that big-ticket player. But right now, it’s a gamble.”
The 26-year-old may have been the victim of carrying around the weight of a huge price tag. While he has shown flashes of his talent, Arteta’s reluctance to use him regularly may have shot his confidence down this season. There is a belief, that Pepe would do well in a different team with a breath of fresh air. Whether that team in Newcastle remains to be seen.