Arsenal legend Robert Pires has claimed Nicolas Pepe is not cut out for the rigours of the Premier League.
Pepe arrived at Arsenal from Lille in 2019, and the £72 million ($99m / €81m) transfer fee placed huge expectation on his shoulders.
The 25-year-old has shown flashes of brilliance, but not enough to justify the fee and Pires feels it is a mindset problem that Pepe will struggle to change.
“His game doesn’t suit the intensity and demands of the Premier League,” Pires told the Sun.
“Pepe wasn’t used to it and it has been complicated for him to change his mentality, to adapt to a new way of training and to settle in a tough league.
“I think he is simply not cut out for English football.”
Pepe struggled earlier this season at a time when Arsenal were in a poor vein of form.
There has been an uptick in performance at the Emirates Stadium, but it has been Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka who have grasped their chances – and the arrival of Martin Odegaard on loan from Real Madrid only increases the competition in Mikel Arteta’s squad.
Pepe did his cause no harm with an impressive display in the 3-1 win over Southampton, drawing praise from his manager, but he needs to produce on a regular basis if he is to win over the likes of Pires.
Pires also had his say on Mesut Ozil, and claimed no one was to blame for the situation that led to the forward’s exit to Fenerbahce in January.
“In my opinion Ozil is an Arsenal legend,” Pires said. “We must not forget everything he did for this club and the quality he brought to the team.
“For me there is no culprit in this story. I know Arteta and I know Ozil. The manager made a decision and Ozil had to accept it, which he did.
He never complained but instead continued to train like a professional.
“He has now found a solution to leave by signing with Fenerbahce and I think everyone’s happy – especially Mesut because he was the one most affected by it.
“Being frozen out of the squad is very tough. That said, for me Ozil has already gone down as an Arsenal legend.”