Unwanted Arsenal forward open to staying in France
- Nicolas Pepe open to staying at OGC Nice after season-long loan from Arsenal.
- Pepe returns to starting lineup after recovering from knee tendinitis issue.
- Nice aims for European qualification through Conference League or top-five Ligue 1 finish.
- Pepe has one year remaining on Arsenal contract, Nice considering retaining him for next season.
Pepe’s return to the Starting Lineup
After a tendinitis-related knee injury kept him sidelined since mid-January, Pepe made his comeback last Thursday, appearing as a substitute in Nice’s UEFA Europa Conference League victory over Sheriff Tiraspol.
He returned to their starting lineup on Sunday, playing the full 90 minutes as Nice drew 1-1 with FC Lorient.
European Aspirations for OGC Nice
OGC Nice have set their sights on securing a spot in European competitions for the upcoming season.
Achieving this goal is possible either through winning the Conference League or by finishing in the top five in Ligue 1 where they currently sit seventh, six points from fifth.
Evaluating Pepe’s Contract at Arsenal
Pepe’s contract with Arsenal will only have one year remaining at the end of this season, and both the player and OGC Nice are considering their options for the future.
L’Équipe reports that Nice are contemplating the idea of retaining Pepe for the following season but would, apparently, like to see more from the Ivorian winger before making any decisions.
The player, for his part, is said to be ‘open to the idea’.
The Role of Injuries in Pepe’s Current Season
The knee injury that sidelined Pepe for nearly two months has undoubtedly impacted his season with OGC Nice.
However, prior to his injury, he had made 23 appearances and scored eight goals (with one assist) in all competitions.
As the team’s top scorer at the time, Pepe’s contributions were vital to OGC Nice’s success.
The club and its supporters will undoubtedly be eager to see Pepe return to form and help propel them into European football.
Arsenal, for their part, will no doubt be keen to draw a line under the whole Nicolas Pepe affair who is now worth some €50m less than they paid for him in 2019.