Arsenal transfer news: Nicolas Pepe's £72 million move under club investigation

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Arsenal's record signing Nicolas Pepe has left supporters divided this season.

Some fans will tell you that the Ivorian is one of the worst signings in recent Premier League history, whereas others will opine that he's actually been underrated during his first year in England.

But what the debate ultimately comes down to is the fact Arsenal dipped so deep into their wallet to secure his arrival, parting with no less than £72 million to surpass their previous high watermark.

Assessing Pepe's first season

And that's where the detractors are gathering their ammunition from because, well, it's pretty hard to pitch the argument that Pepe has been a flop on the same magnitude as, say, Joelinton.

There's just an expectation - a natural one, I hastened to add - that someone procured for such a dizzying fee is going to hit the ground running and change the team in an instant.

Whether we like to admit it or not, the transfer fees that players go for play a massive role in fan perception - why do you think Harry Maguire has been thrust down the microscope so much?

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Arsenal question if they overpaid

That being said, it seems as though even Arsenal themselves aren't looking back on the Pepe deal with much fondness and the crater it blew in their wallet has seemingly never looked larger.

ESPN are reporting that sources within the football club are saying that Pepe's arrival is being reexamined, though the Gunners have denied that it's a formal investigation.

The central issue being analysed is whether or not the club overpaid, which is part of a wider introspection into Arsenal recruitment after the dismissals of a number of key scouts.

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Review into Arsenal scouting

Francis Cagigao, Brian McDermott and Brian Clark were amongst the scouts to be dismissed by the club as part of the 55 redundancies that were executed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scouting reports and negotiation tactics are being put under a wider review because of the nature of the Pepe deal, which will see Arsenal make payments totalling £52 million over the next five years.

And Arsenal have good reason to think they did indeed overpay with sources telling ESPN that rival clubs who were also interested in signing Pepe were taken aback by how much Arsenal paid.

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GIVEMESPORT's Kobe Tong says

I hate to be spoil the part here, guys, but Pepe hasn't actually been a flop.

Don't get me wrong, you'd expect more from somebody who cost almost as much as Cristiano Ronaldo, but we've got to cut the guy some slack when you think about the context.

Besides, WhoScored.com statistics actually has the former Lille winger as Arsenal's best performer in the Premier League this season, producing an average match rating of 7.06. 

That's more than the prolific Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in second place, while the trio of Emiliano Martinez, Shkodran Mustafi and Alexandre Lacazette round out a somewhat surprising top five. 

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But it's enough to suggest that Pepe has played better in the red and white of Arsenal than his five goals and six assists in the league might otherwise suggest.

And lest we forget that he achieved that statistical crown during a season in which Arsenal flirted with a finish in the bottom half of the table, winning just one league game in 12 between October and December.

So, barring any sneak second-season-syndrome, you can expect Pepe to move in no direction other than up with a steadier campaign under Mikel Arteta and fresh with an FA Cup in his trophy cabinet.

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Overpriced, then? For me, the jury is still out.

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