Seen a bit of chatter online on social media and then in a couple of WhatsApp groups I am in about Nicolas Pepe. Whilst a chunk of the Arsenal squad went out to Germany to prep for the first pre season game of the summer against FC Nurnberg tomorrow, there were a few players that have been conspicuous by their absence, with the likes of Sambi declaring on his social media that he is ‘injured’, to add to a list of some of the team like Turner and ESR also away. Most of them you could say that there are reasons behind it, so for ESR and Turner they have obviously been away on international duty and so perhaps don’t have to return just yet. But the fact that Pepe hasn’t been spotted in any of the pictures leads us to believe he isn’t with Mikel Arteta’s side.

It would suggest that he’s not got a place in the squad any more and is not part of Arteta’s plans, but to not even have him join the team is a little weird if you ask me. They have Runar Alex Runarsson in the travelling group and I think we can all agree he has no future at the club. He is behind Ramsdale, Turner and probably even Hein or Okonkwo in getting close to the Arsenal team. So why has he travelled but Pepe hasn’t?

There hasn’t been any noises about injury like there was from Sambi, so perhaps he has been told to stay away? Again, a little weird if so, if you ask me. We paid £72million for him, he still has a year on his contract and if we want to try and recoup anything for the player, surely we should take him on tour, right? We all know the season he had on loan at Lille was hardly a world beating one; 28 appearances, eight goals and one assist is hardly pulling up trees and there’s no surprise that Nice have decided against making this a permanent move. But surely he has value to somebody? Surely somebody wants to take a punt on a player who did show glimpses of great technique and showed flashes of skills that looked elite? It was only a couple of seasons ago that he had what many of us described as an indifferent season, whilst still bagging 16 goals and five assists in the Premier League and Europa League in a season. That’s got to be worth something, right?

I guess Arsenal have not had very much interest in a player whose rumoured salary is around the £140k-per-week mark. There aren’t many clubs on mainland Europe who would be prepared to take that on, but if Pepe is somebody who just wants to get back to playing football, surely he’d lower his wage demands to get a club interested in signing him? Let’s just say he halved his wage demands, for example, to £70,000-per-week. Even that to be fair would be a stretch for a mid-table French side, which is probably what he’d be looking at. I know wage websites you always have to take with a pinch of salt, but as an estimation I took the three clubs in France that finished ninth, tenth and 11th and had a look at their wage bills:

  • Nice – highest player on the books now is Kasper Schmeichel on £65k-per-week (Pepe salary is lower than £140k because I think that’s what Nice paid of his wages)
  • Lorient – Romain Faivre is the highest on £18k-per-week
  • Reims – Balogun was the highest on £32k-per-week

So already I am starting to see why, if we want Pepe to go this summer, we probably aren’t getting a fee for him. I can’t see any of the big clubs taking him; there’s no money in Italy, so unless a Saudi bid comes in, I think a termination of his deal is likely. And that will mean Arsenal probably forking out close to £7million to terminate his contract and let him find another club. And when that happens I am sure there will be a few clubs willing to take a punt, only on their wage terms. I could see a club like Fiorentina, Roma, or maybe even Juventus have a sniff at the player if he was free, for example. When you look at their wage bills it feels like getting Pepe on a free feels more realistic. Fiorentina have a bunch of players on around the £40 – £50k-per-week mark. Roma have a load on north of that, whilst Juve too have a big squad they are trying to offload to make money. But getting a player in for free and paying him €70k-per-week wages wouldn’t be too much of a stress if they sold off one of their players on north of €100k-per-week like Chiesa, who has been rumoured to be attracting interest from a few clubs.

But for Arsenal to get any kind of deal from this they’d probably have to ‘mutual consent’ Pepe and that means paying him off. A ‘good’ deal in this instance is probably Arsenal not having to pay the full £7million in wages, to be honest. So if we gave him £5million to go away, then a Roma or Juve offered him a four year deal at £50k-per-week to start from next season, he’d make £5million from Arsenal which is akin to an extra £95k-per-week, which would offset the fact he’s taking a big pay cut next season, then the season’s afterwards he still secures himself a wage that is probably more realistically aligned to the outputs he’s shown so far in the last few seasons.

Everyone’s a winner, right?

This football contract lark is easy, yeah?

Of course there are so many variables here and it is certainly NOT as easy as I am making out, but I guess where I am at by the time I now come to the end of today’s blog, is that I can understand why Pepe might be training alone, I can understand why Arsenal might be looking to terminate his contract this summer and I can understand why ideally you want that to happen now. Equally, if nobody will come in for him but there is an option for another loan for a year in which a club takes on half of his wages, for example, that could work too. Let’s take a Roma for example, who may not want to sign up to a player for four years because of the financial risk. But if they paid half of his wages to test him for a season, at the end of the season if he has been a success they can sign him on a free contract. And for Arsenal, instead of having to pay out £5million for a player to go away, they have paid out around £3.5million for the season to cover half of his wages. They then let the player go next summer and they haven’t had to do a ‘mutual consent’ big pay off. It would be a kind of ‘win win’ for all parties.

Anyway, I’ve probably rabbited on about this enough for today, so I’ll stop there and let you get on with your day.

We’re podcasting tonight at the Same Old Arsenal pod at 7.30pm for our latest summer series ‘one in, one out, one bangs’ featuring my mates Woz and Ben. Give us a listen if you can here.

Catch you all tomorrow!