Arsenal legend Thierry Henry and Tottenham Hotspur boss Jose Mourihno have joined the discussion about Nicolas Pepe’s performance at the Emirates.
Pepe joined the Gunners in a deal worth £72 million, with the north London side beating off competition from clubs across Europe to secure his signature.
But the Ivory Coast international has not lived up to expectations in the club despite his very expensive signing from Lille since last summer.
His inconsistencies on the pitch have attracted a lot of criticisms, some of which had led to the sacking of Unai Emery who signed him.
However, the 25-year-old have shown a lot of promise under current Gunners boss Mikel Arteta as he had scored the winning goal in the 2-1 win over Sheffield United last weekend.
Thierry Henry identified with some of the challenges that Pepe is facing at Arsenal and has urged fans to give the former Lille player more time.
“When you arrive like that, you’re always going to be talked about, and people are always going to target you,” Henry said.
“He needs to make sure he doesn’t listen to that and go out and perform. People need to forget about the price tag. He didn’t ask to be bought for that amount of money himself.
“It’s not always easy to arrive in a team, adapt to a new style of play. The Premier League, as we know, is not the same as the French League or any other league, by the way. So he needs to adapt to that. We need to give him time.”
Henry moved to north London in 1999 from Juventus, and despite going on to score 175 times in 258 Premier League appearances for the north London club, the Frenchman initially struggled to cope with the demands of the top flight.
Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho also echoed Henry’s defense for Pepe:
“Last season after I left United, I went a few times to Lille because my friend is the coach there [Christophe Galtier] so I know quite a lot about his qualities,” Mourinho said on Sky Sports at the beginning of last season.
“They were playing 4-4-2 and he was the right sided player. He knows how to defend, to play in the 4-4-2 as the right winger, you know how to defend, not only that area but also the inside.
“He does that very well. When he has the ball and also without the ball, he is very effective and very direct.
“The goals that he misses against Arsenal, he normally doesn’t miss it. He’s very cool in front of the keeper and I think this boy has fantastic potential.
“To play as they did last weekend against Liverpool, was out of his natural habitat.
“If they are to play three in midfield with him, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at the front, looking to the movements, I think they can make it a real force.”