Nicolas Pépé (£9.5m) has the potential to be Arsenal’s most important Fantasy Premier League asset in 2019/20.
The former Lille winger joins the Gunners with plenty of potential to both score goals and register assists this season.
We have assessed what Pépé is capable of and what he could bring to FPL in 2019/20.
The history and statistics
Pépé arrives at Arsenal as one of the most promising players in Europe with much expected of him.
In recent seasons the 24-year-old has demonstrated tremendous pace in wide areas and possesses enormous amounts of skill to boot.
Curiously though, the attacking winger started his career as a goalkeeper for local side Solitaire Paris Est in France, playing that position until he was 14.
Pépé’s senior debut came for Angers in 2014 but his first extended period of football came with third-tier side Orléans.
During the 2015/16 campaign with them, he scored seven goals in 29 Championnat National matches.
A full season in Ligue 1 with Angers followed in 2016/17, Pépé scoring three times and assisting once in 11 starts and 22 substitute appearances.
That was enough to earn a move to Lille where the now Ivory Coast international enjoyed a breakout 2017/18 season.
In 36 appearances, Pépé found the net 13 times and provided four assists.
He went from strength-to-strength in 2018/19 as he scored 22 goals and registered 11 assists demonstrating his ability both to put chances away and create them for his team-mates.
Furthermore, Pépé’s attacking statistics were particularly impressive in the wider context of European football.
Pépé was one of just two players in Europe’s top five leagues to score 20 or more goals and register 10 or more assists in the same season. The other? Lionel Messi. Not bad company to be keeping.
For that reason, Pépé was a highly courted player in the summer of 2019, linked with many of the elite European sides.
The fact that he has signed for Arsenal should very much be considered a coup and has been met with much excitement from their fanbase.
It would be fair to say that he is probably one of the most appealing of any new signing made by a Premier League team ahead of 2019/20.
|2018-19||Mins per shot||Mins per shot in the box||Mins per shot on target||Mins per key pass|
Once he has reached the required levels of fitness, Pépé should slot straight into Emery’s Arsenal team seamlessly.
The Gunners have been lacking a pacey wide player with the ability to stretch opponents in wide areas for some time.
The addition of Pépé to their squad enhances Arsenal’s attacking credentials greatly, considering that he is capable both of scoring and setting up goals.
His pace and trickery should help unlock even the most stubborn of defences and cause opponents plenty of problems.
Pépé attempted 5.76 dribbles per game in Ligue 1 last season and that drive should also see him do well in the Premier League, even if the average difficulty level of opponent is likely to rise for him.
As you can see from the table above, Pépé compared very favourably against his new colleagues based on 2018/19’s performances.
His minutes per shot of 28.2 was better than any of the selected attacking options the Gunners had at their disposal last season.
The same goes for his shot in the box every 46.8 minutes and shot on target every 54.5 minutes. As we’ve already explained, we have to attach a caveat to these that the Premier League is a tougher league than Ligue 1 but there is no doubt that Pépé is an exciting attacking talent.
Based on those numbers, there is a chance he can rival both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£11.0m) and Alexandre Lacazette (£9.5m) for goal threat, but he also proved in 2018/19 that he is much more creative than them too.
He fashioned a chance every 47.5 minutes, with only Mesut Özil (£7.5m) offering better than that among Arsenal’s ranks last season.
This is why Pépé could potentially overtake his new colleagues and prove to be the most important FPL option among Arsenal’s ranks as he can combine both goals and assists regularly if he lives up to his potential.
The introductory price as a £9.5m midfielder is what seals our serious interest in this player. Already, he can offer a saving of £1.5m against Aubameyang and the fact that he is the same price as Lacazette is also important. While offering an extra point for goals, Pépé will also be eligible for clean sheets which could see him prove better value compared to the Frenchman too.
It is also worth saying that these added levels of creativity, from a wide position, could also boost the attacking potential of Aubameyang and Lacazette at the same time.
However, we should temper the excitement a little bit by explaining some mitigating circumstances for the impressive nature of his 2018/19 campaign.
Of the 22 goals that he scored in Ligue 1, nine of these were from the penalty spot.
It is worth pointing out that Aubameyang and Lacazette are already established penalty takers at Arsenal.
That is not to suggest that Pépé could not work his way into that pecking order, but as things stand we have little evidence to guarantee that he will.
That said, even if Pépé does not manage to challenge Aubameyang or Lacazette for penalty-taking responsibilities, his style of play could still see him win Fantasy points for spot-kicks.
Of the nine penalties that he scored last season, five were won by fouls on him, so it’s possible that he could be the one most likely to secure them for Arsenal this year which, if scored, would afford him assist points.
Finally, Fantasy managers may also have to wait before they can jump straight into signing Pépé for their Gameweek 1 squads.
He was part of the Ivory Coast squad that made it to the quarter-finals of the African Cup of Nations this summer and was given some extended time off.
For that reason, Arsenal’s latest signing was not part of the matchday squad for the 2-1 defeat to Barcelona over the weekend.
“Tomorrow we are going to train together. Each day for him [Pepe] and for us is information we can save. ‘We hope he can be [available] for this match [against Newcastle next Sunday]. With him, I want to be patient. He is in the same situation as the other players who have been coming in the last days. For example, Lucas Torreira, after one week of training today has his first ten minutes. With Pépé, it’s the same. It’s better to be training and be working with us.” – Unai Emery
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