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Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe ‘to join Nice on loan within next 48 hours’

Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe ‘to join Nice on loan within next 48 hours’

Ligue 1 outfit Nice have reportedly reached an agreement with Arsenal to sign winger Nicolas Pepe on a season-long loan deal.

The 27-year-old has fallen down the pecking order behind Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe under head coach Mikel Arteta, who is willing to let the Ivorian leave the club in search of regular first-team football.

Speaking to reporters last Friday about Pepe’s future at Arsenal, Arteta said: “What we can communicate we always do when it’s the right moment.

“We discussed that we have a big squad and we’ve made some decisions and allowed some players to leave.

“Until the end of the window anything is possible with any player. We want to only bring certain qualities through that door and if not then it’s not worth it.”

Nicolas Pepe warms up for Arsenal in December 2021© Reuters

A report earlier this week claimed that both Nice and Arsenal were holding further talks over a temporary deal for Pepe, who joined the Gunners for a club-record £72m in the summer of 2019.

Sky Sports News now claims that Nice have agreed to take the winger on loan for the 2022-23 campaign, although an option to make the deal permanent has not been included.

The report adds that the final details are being finalised and both parties are hopeful that the deal will be completed within the next 48 hours.

Leicester City were recently credited with an interest in signing Pepe, but Nice seem to have won the race for the signature of the 34-cap Ivory Coast international.

Pepe has struggled to reach the heights expected at the Emirates Stadium following his big-money move from Lille three years ago.

Lille's Nicolas Pepe celebrates scoring against Nice on February 1, 2019© Reuters

The former Poitiers youngster has recorded 27 goals and 21 assists in 112 appearances for Arsenal across all competitions, but he was only handed five starts in the Premier League last season and contributed to just one goal and two assists.

Pepe, who has two years remaining on his Gunners contract, will be hoping to get his career back on track in France, where he enjoyed a successful two-year period with Lille.

Pepe contributed to 20 goals in the 2017-18 campaign – his first season with Les Dogues – before elevating his game to new heights in his second and final year with the club, scoring 22 goals and registering 11 assists in 38 Ligue 1 appearances.

The winger was rewarded for his efforts in front of goal that season as he won the club’s Player of the Year award and was also named in the Ligue 1 Team of the Season.

Pepe could be signed in time to make his debut for Nice in Sunday’s French top-flight encounter at home against Marseille.

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