Arteta backs Pepe to star for 'many years' at Arsenal

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Nicolas Pépé
Premier League
African All Stars
The Gunners' club record signing started his first game of the season on Wednesday in the Carabao Cup against Leicester City
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Mikel Arteta insists Nicolas Pepe has come "a long way" since he arrived last summer and believes the club record signing will stay at Arsenal for "many years".

Arsenal invested heavily to bring Pepe in from Lille in 2019, paying £72 million ($92m) for the Ivory Coast international.

After a slow start to life in north London, the winger had a strong end to his first season in England - scoring eight goals and contributing 10 assists in all competitions.

He has had to watch from the bench during Arsenal’s opening two leagues games of the current campaign, however, with new signing Willian getting the nod on the right side of the front three.

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Pepe did start on Wednesday night during the 2-0 Carabao Cup win at Leicester City, but is likely to return to the bench on Monday when Arteta takes his team to champions Liverpool.

Arsenal’s manager insists, however, that he is more than happy with the 25-year-old’s progress and believes the best is yet to come.

“I think Nico has come a long way,” said the Spaniard. “Obviously we know what the club paid for him when he joined and that was an extra pressure.

“But he is a player who had to adapt. It is a different style and he has a really good attitude and we can see big developments in a lot of places in his game.

“He is very settled here, he is liked by the boys, he is a really good character to have around and I'm really positive we are going to have him for many years and that he can perform at a really high level consistently.”

Pepe was joined at Arsenal by Gabriel Magalhaes this summer, his former team-mate at Lille.

And Arteta thinks the pair being together once again will help both as they continue to adjust to their new surroundings.

“It is always nice for them to have some compatriots next to them, it makes life easier in the first few months, when they cannot talk the language,” said the Gunners boss.

“I think for both of them, obviously they know each other and have spent some time together now so I think it is a positive thing.”

Meanwhile, Arteta admitted that he is still hoping to add to his squad before the transfer deadline on October 6.

Arsenal want to bring in Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid and talks are continuing with the Spanish side, who are keen on Lucas Torreira.

Atletico are insistent, however, that any deal over Torreira will not include Partey, who they say will only leave if his £46 million (€50m/$58m) release clause is triggered.

Another midfielder who has been linked with Arsenal is Chelsea’s Italy international Jorginho, but Arteta refused to discuss the possibility of the midfielder swapping Stamford Bridge for Emirates Stadium.

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“Sorry but I can’t open up on players who play for a different team about their qualities,” he said. “It’s not appropriate from my side.

“We are still open to improve our team. We are looking for different options depending as well on what happens with some of our players here. So we are getting prepared just in case we need to do something.”

On Torreira’s future, Arteta added: “We don’t have any updates on Lucas or any other player at the moment.”