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Nicolas Pépé might not have scored for Arsenal yet, but he’s already begun the important task of schooling opponents.
When Arsenal let Alex Iwobi leave for Everton on transfer deadline day there was a worry they’d lost a part of their identity.
The problem wasn’t losing an academy graduate after more than a decade – it was losing a man capable of pulling out a nutmeg like it was a rabbit from a hat. Thankfully, in Nicolas Pépé, they already had someone to fill that particular gap.
Away from north London, Pépé’s arrival was about as low-key as £72million signings can be, partly because the excitement came long before the move was made official, and partly because Harry Maguire moved for even more money less than a week later.
That’s not to say Arsenal fans weren’t getting hugely excited about his arrival. We had the usual repeated rewatchings of the Ivorian’s best moments in a Lille shirt, bringing excitement even to those who hadn’t known what to expect before he joined the party.
But Pépé’s debut from the bench against Newcastle was a subdued affair for both player and club.
Some were willing to accept it might take a little while for the winger to hit his rhythm. Then he came on for Reiss Nelson against Burnley and asked those people “are you sure?”.