Mikel Arteta has insisted that Nicolas Pepe has started to find form following a slow start to the season. The Ivorian has netted 11 goals and 5 assists in 42 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal this season and looks to fire the Gunners to a first Europa League final since 2018/19.
Arsenal smashed their transfer budget in 2019 when they managed to pry away Nicolas Pepe from LOSC Lille for a record £72 million but things haven't gone according to plan. Instead, the forward has struggled with him unable to justify his club record transfer fee. But things have slowly but steadily changed with Pepe slowly finding his footing in England.
It has seen flashes of an extremely skilled player turn out this season with the Ivorian netting 11 goals and contributing to a further five goals across all competitions this season for the North Londoners. However, consistency has been Pepe's biggest issue but despite that Mikel Arteta has admitted that he is happy with the improvement. The Arsenal boss also added that confidence is a key factor for any player and the Ivorian's confidence is reflected in his performances.
"I think he's come a long way in the last few months. His work ethic has been phenomenal and he's deciding many more games and doing what he can do in the final third in a much more consistent way. So I'm really happy with his performances and now he needs to continue like this," Arteta said, reported by Goal.
Confidence in every player is crucial and every time you step on that field, if they feel secure, if they feel protected if they feel like they're supported by their manager and their teammates, it's something that is crucial to be able to perform. Then with the things that he could do better, he's doing much better with as well. But it's all a mix that is reflected in his performance."