NICOLAS PEPE has cast doubt on his Arsenal future after hinting at a summer exit.
And the £72million Gunners star also revealed he was struggling to communicate with boss Mikel Arteta because of the “language barrier”.
Pepe has endured a frustrating season in north London, making just five starts in the Premier League – most recently in a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace in October.
With the form of the likes of Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Emile Smith-Rowe and Martin Odegaard taking the club to a place in the top four, the 26-year-old sat on the bench for most of the season.
Pepe suggests he spoke to Arteta about his lack of playing time and insists he works hard in training and is physically ready to contribute for Arsenal.
However, when asked about the possibility of leaving the club to do more on Tuesday night ahead of Ivory Coast’s friendly against England at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday night, he was less committed.
As for a move in the summer, Pepe – whose current contract expires in 2024 – said: “My focus is on how well we do by the end of the season and on the club’s goal of getting into the Champions League. Then we will see what happens.”
He added: “It’s an honor to play for Ivory Coast. The most important thing is to enjoy football. That’s something I can do if I get a chance to play.
“It happens at international level and a little less at club level. It’s frustrating not to play. No player likes not to play, but I have to respect the manager’s decision.
“When a team wins, it’s difficult for a coach to make changes. Mikel explained that to me and I know I have to work hard in training to get more playing time.
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“The coach knows what I’m thinking and how hard I’m working. It’s also about communication. Sometimes it is not easy to communicate with the language barrier.
“It’s been a tough season for me.”
Asked if he feels he’s grown since joining Arsenal in the summer of 2019, Pepe continued: “I’ve improved since I came to London.
“English football is totally different from French football, especially the intensity of the games and I had to adapt physically and make that transition, which I think I’ve made.”
Pepe has one goal and one assist in La Liga so far but his form for Ivory Coast is a different story as he has three goals and one assist in his last five internationals.
Asked if he was confused at seeing Pepe on the bench for Arsenal, Ivory Coast boss Patrice Beaumelle said: “Of course. I have a fantastic relationship with Nico.
“When I got the job he was the first player I met at Arsenal.
“For a player, if he feels the manager gives confidence, maybe he can give more.
“But for me it’s painful when I see Nico on the bench because he loves to play and it’s painful for me because if I want my team to improve my players have to enjoy playing.
“I always respect other managers. It’s not my job to comment on why he’s not playing or how he’s playing. I would like him to play more because I’m sure he can bring a lot of solutions.
“If you see what he brings to Ivory Coast I would love to see him bring so much fun and joy and happiness and goals with the red jersey.”
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/football/premier-league/4995004/arsenal-nicolas-pepe-transfer-exit-hint/ ‘Frustrated’ Nicolas Pepe admits he could LEAVE Arsenal as record £72m signing cast doubt on his future