Nicolas Pepe has revealed his frustration at a lack of ‘playing time’ at Arsenal with the club-record signing having struggled for regular opportunities so far this season.
Pepe has started just once in the Premier League for the north London side over the opening months of the campaign, the winger having largely failed to convince on a consistent basis since arriving at the Emirates in a £72m deal from Lille.
He netted eight goals in all competitions last season after his record-breaking arrival from Ligue 1, but has struggled to win favour this season amid increased competition for a first-team place from summer signing Willian.
The Ivory Coast international has been handed his opportunity in cup competition and has impressed during Arsenal‘s Europa League campaign, scoring twice and providing a further two assists in just three appearances.
The 25-year-old has now opened up on his frustrations with his lack of league minutes and is hopeful he can convince Mikel Arteta he deserves a regular first-team place, admitting he is keen to have ‘a little more playing time’ and ‘find a smile again’.
“My goal is to play more. To have a little more playing time,” Pepe told French channel Canal+.
“A player who plays is happy. For me, I would like to play a little more to find a smile again. He (Arteta) wants me to be 100 per cent focused during the 90 minutes of the match. Afterwards, I see during training that I will be a substitute the following weekend.
“But the coach speaks to me, he also has assistants who are there for that. But it is frustrating for any player to be on the bench. A super-sub role? The coach makes his choices. It’s up to me to show him that I don’t have that role.”