Nicolas Pepe needs to prove the doubters wrong this season, says ex- Arsenal wingers Jimmy Carter and Perry Groves.
The Ivory Coast international became the Gunners’ record signing last year after they paid £72m to secure his services from Lille.
But Pepe struggled to adapt to life in the Premier League and managed just five goals in 31 top-flight appearances.
Carter – who had a four-year stay in north London during the 90s – reckons the 25-year-old is fortunate Arteta took charge after Unai Emery’s dismissal in November.
“Perhaps another manager would have looked at Pepe and decided he wasn’t right,” he said. “There would have been a chance of him getting moved on.
“Let’s be honest, he was disappointing initially – especially off the back of the big price tag. But I think Arteta has seen something in him.
Nicolas Pepe had a tough first season at Arsenal.
“It was against West Ham where he was brilliant and I’m sure from then on he decided Pepe could do a job for the football club.
“He’s got ability – that’s for sure – and having the backing of a manager gives you so much confidence. It’ll help him improve even more.
“Players also sometimes take a little bit of time to settle, but he’s now won the FA Cup and bedded in well with his team-mates.
“I expect him to go up a level after virtually a full campaign under his belt with Arsenal.”
Mikel Arteta helped bring the best out of Nicolas Pepe. Pepe was rested for the Community Shield victory over Liverpool last weekend.
Bukayo Saka was given the chance to impress on the right flank in his absence.
Groves has warned that Pepe still has plenty of work to do. And he’s urged the wide man to keep putting in the hard yards behind the scenes.
“Pepe is very frustrating because he keeps doing the same things over and over – cutting in on his left,” said Groves, who won two league titles during his stint at Arsenal.