Nicolas Pepe offered two routes out of Arsenal this summer to make room for £50m replacement – Tom Canton

The last time Arsenal fans saw Nicolas Pepe play for the club was coming off the bench for a 12 minute cameo against Norwich City in a 5-0 victory.

Pepe has been very much on the outskirts of the Arsenal team this season averaging 55 minutes across his nine Premier League appearances. Mikel Arteta has instead put far more expectation on Bukayo Saka to lead the right-hand side of his team.

There were suggestions that Pepe could leave the club in January and understood that the player would assess his options in the winter window just gone if his situation continued to diminish.

Despite the window closing and Pepe remaining at the club, it has not settled his future. In fact, it was revealed that there were interested parties of Pepe during the window.

Ligue 1 sides Marseille and Lyon were both interested in the player, according to French outlet L’Equipe via GFFN.

Marseille wanted to bring both the Ivorian and his international teammate, Eric Bailly, to the club. Lyon were said to hold an ‘equally’ strong interest in the player who ripped the French league apart whilst with Lille.

Pepe’s future looks set to be decided in the summer when the 26-year-old could be made available to potential permanent offers.

Arteta has heavily trimmed his squad, especially of players signed prior to his arrival in late 2019. The Unai Emery signing would fall into this category.

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Were Pepe to move on, Arsenal would need to bring in a replacement for the right flank and have a number of options performing in the Premier League and in Europe.

Beginning on the continent, Ajax’s Brazilian winger Antony has risen in stock in the minds of plenty of Europe’s elite after consistently strong displays.

Nine goals and seven assists in 22 games this season has only increased interest. Brazilian outlet UOL via Transfermarkt claims Bayern Munich’s interest has seen the price increase to as high as €40 million.

Secondly and back across the water to England is Leeds United’s Raphinha. A fellow Brazilian, the winger has faired much better in England since his move from Ligue 1 side Rennes.

According to The Mirror, West Ham were willing to pay as much as £50 million for the winger but Leeds had no interest in selling midseason. Eight goals and two assists may not better Antony but performing in the English top-flight garners greater acclaim.

Finally, another Premier League option is Watford’s, Ismaila Sarr. Relegated once with the Hornets, it is unlikely Sarr would stay for another season and instead seek a way out if they were to go down again.

Currently sidelined with a ligament injury, Sarr is expected to return soon but did not participate at the African Cup of Nations. Valued at £24.3 million according to Transfermarkt, Arsenal may find the Senegalese wide man the best value for money option to replace Pepe.

Five goals in his lowly 12 appearances this season display what he can offer even in a side struggling for form this campaign.

The most interesting part of this saga, however, is how much Arsenal will be able to make from the sale of Pepe who infamously cost a record £72 million from Lille. Getting close to that figure is something of a pipedream and the French sides interested are hardly rolling in money after the television rights controversy.

Arsenal will need to find a solution but where from and how much remains ambiguous.

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