'Pepe is making it easy for Arteta to leave him out' - Arsenal's record signing goes missing far too often, says Parlour

Nicolas Pepe Arsenal 2020-21
Getty Images
A club legend has urged the Ivorian winger to prove he can deliver the goods for the Gunners week in, week out

Nicolas Pepe is making it easy for Mikel Arteta to leave him out of his team, according to Ray Parlour, who says Arsenal's record signing goes missing far too often.

Pepe became the most expensive player in Arsenal's history when he completed a £72 million ($95m) move to Emirates Stadium from Lille in August 2019.

The Ivory Coast international had built up a reputation as a deadly winger with an impressive record for goals and assists in Ligue 1, but has yet to show the same kind of form in English football.

The 25-year-old has 11 goals to his name from his first 52 outings for the Gunners, and has struggled to hold down a place in Arteta's starting XI since the Spaniard's return to the club in December.

After being dropped for last weekend's win at Manchester United, Pepe returned to the Arsenal manager's line-up when Molde arrived at the Emirates for a Europa League group-stage clash on Thursday.

He failed to affect the game in any significant way during the first 45 minutes, but improved drastically in the second period, scoring and assisting to help the hosts wrap up a comfortable 4-1 victory.

Arteta called for Pepe to start delivering the goods on a more consistent basis in his post-match interview, and Parlour has echoed the 38-year-old's sentiments, insisting the ex-Lille star is not doing enough to earn a regular spot in the team.

"I think it was a game of two halves for Pepe [against Molde]. I thought first half he was pretty poor," the Gunners legend told talkSPORT. "He picked up second half but you can’t do that when you are in big games, you have to be effective for the 90 minutes. That’s what Mikel Arteta is saying.

"You've got to play your part throughout the game. I think [Bukayo] Saka does that. If you look at the way he plays he's always involved in the good parts of Arsenal's game going forwards and defensively.

"Pepe's just got to get that bit more consistency during the game because you can go missing.

"You can't have missing players because against the big sides you have to have everyone on that pitch doing their work and being involved in a good team performance, that's probably what he's trying to say there against Pepe.

Article continues below

"First half yesterday it was like his brother was playing, Second half he's turned up and got his goal. The price tag doesn't help, it was a lot of money. There's going to be more pressure when the fee is a little bit higher.

"I just want to see him do it five or six games in a row. He's got to have such a good game that Mikel Arteta can't leave him out. At the moment Pepe is giving Arteta the easy option to leave him out.

"He's too inconsistent and doesn't do it in every game. The big players do it every game, like Son [Heung-min] at Spurs. He makes a difference every single game, that's what Pepe doesn't do."