Nicolas Pepe joined Nice on loan for a season to try to get back to his best form after a bad stretch at Arsenal. However, the £72 million winger’s first game did not go well.
Nicolas Pepe was happy to leave Arsenal and join Nice earlier this month, but his first game for the French team did not go as planned on Sunday.
Marseille beat Nice 3-0 at home. Alexis Sanchez, who used to play for Arsenal, scored twice, and Nuno Tavares, who is on loan from Arsenal, scored the other goal. Marseille is now on top of the Ligue 1 table. Sead Kolasinac and Matteo Guendouzi both used to play for Arsenal. Nice, on the other hand, is in 18th place and hasn’t won any of their first four games.
Pepe is still the most expensive player that Arsenal has ever bought. He cost £72 million to buy from Lille in 2019, but his career has not gone as well as expected since then. The player from Ivory Coast is on loan to Nice for a season so he can try to get back to his best in the league where he made his name.
He started on the right wing for Nice against Marseille, but he had no effect on the game. When asked about his performance after the game, Nice manager Lucien Favre didn’t hold back when he talked about his new player.
“He hasn’t played in England in a long time. He has done preseason with Arsenal, but he hasn’t played any games yet,” he told Foot Mercato. “He doesn’t have enough rhythm and intensity in his passes, his pressing, and getting the ball back, which is something everyone has to do. There’s no way around it. If one or two players don’t do their jobs, the whole team is in trouble. Everyone has to do it at the same time, and everyone has to defend to get the ball back.”
Favre then talked about how his whole team was having trouble, but he pointed out how hard they had worked against Maccabi Tel-Aviv the week before. The team from Ligue 1 had to play extra time to earn a spot in the Europa League. Pepe didn’t play in that game because he had just joined the team that day, but his play against Marseille left a lot to be desired.
“We talked about that already. I understand that the players are tired because we had extra time and some of them ran 17 km. Can’t blame it on being tired. We have to be ready and act like pros. In all professional sports, it is important to get the ball back.
Favre added that the team’s performance was “a very, very big disappointment.” “It’s true that we weren’t very good in the first half. Not enough courage to go up. We make mistakes on goals. It got a little better in the second, but because Marseille calmed down, not much changed.
“In the first half, we didn’t defend well. You can’t be good if you’re not good at getting better. We’ve already talked about this. We’re worn out. We switched out four five-players, so these are just reasons. As well as the transfer window. Some people will leave and others will come, which can be upsetting. But these are just reasons.
This summer, former Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey joined Pepe at Nice after his contract with Juventus was ended early, and Kasper Schmeichel moved from Leicester to the south of France.
The three former Premier League players have not had a good start at the club. Even though Ramsey scored on his first game, Nice has only scored two goals total. Favre’s team has scored the fewest goals in Ligue 1.