By 90Min
October 01, 2019

Despite having an apparent £45m budget, Arsenal were able to snap up one of the most exciting talents in Europe during the summer transfer window, making Lille winger Nicolas Pépé their club-record signing for £72m.

The 24-year-old played with an incredible arrogance last season that saw him rack up 22 league goals and set up another 11, with Pépé's record in Ligue 1 only bettered by Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappé.

Since touching down in north London, however, Pépé looks like he's completely lost his mojo, scoring his only goal of the season so far thanks to a penalty against Aston Villa, while his two assists across all competitions have also left fans feeling somewhat short-changed.

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That's not to say that Pépé hasn't looked dangerous, though. He's had flashes of brilliance in each of his outings in the Premier League this season, and while his finishing touch was absent, the Ivory Coast international was a standout player for Arsenal against Liverpool on matchday three.

But Pépé has, at times, looked to quick for his own good during the opening few weeks of his Premier League career, with his brain often appearing to play catch-up to whatever piece of skill that his feet come up with instinctively.

The former Angers forward is, of course, finding himself under much more scrutiny than most new signings do due to him becoming the Premier League's joint-fifth most expensive arrival of all time, level with Chelsea's Kepa Arrizabalaga.

And even though every slight misstep being blown out of proportion is part and parcel of becoming a club's most expensive player - just look at the treatment Romelu Lukaku was subject to at Old Trafford - Pépé has already admitted that he's not performing like normal as he's seriously low on confidence.

"It has not been easy, I must tell the truth," Pépé told RMC (via football.london). "My stats have not been good enough or my usual performances, it is not the same as Lille or the Liverpool game earlier in the season.

"My confidence must come back. I am not very worried. People may be worried about my statistics but I am not.

"I have to keep working as the level here is different, so is the language. It is a new league for me and I must adapt quickly. But it won’t take very long."

Pépé isn't the first exciting winger to struggle to adapt to a new league and he certainly won't be the last either, but perhaps the sudden turnaround of Liverpool talisman Mohamed Salah provides the best example of why Arsenal fans need to be patient.

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And no, we're not talking about Salah's first stint in the Premier League when he was in his early 20s, but rather the Egypt international's mixed time with Serie A clubs Fiorentina and A.S. Roma.

He was still the number one cause of headaches for full-backs in Italy during his two-and-a-half years in Serie A thanks to his pace and trickery, but Salah was a far cry from the confident, clinical forward who's been involved in 107 goals in 114 games for Liverpool.

It can't just be chalked up to a confidence issue with Pépé though, as playing in a team-orientated system at Emirates Stadium was always bound to shackle him somewhat during his first season at Arsenal, just like it would have done with the club's other summer target Wilfried Zaha.

So although Pépé hasn't hit the ground running like fans were hoping for from their club-record signing, the Ivory Coast international hasn't actually been a disappointment either, and in fact, supporters would be singing his name from the rooftops if he'd have arrived on a free transfer.

Although patience over his ability to adapt is already starting to run out for fans, Unai Emery and even Pépé himself, there's still a lot more to come from the Ivory Coast international in the Premier League and he could yet prove to be the catalyst which sees Arsenal return to the Champions League next season.

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