Money talks – in every sense.
Mesut Ozil dominates talk revolving around Arsenal most days in the news – despite not having played a minute post-lockdown.
And in every story, his exorbitant wage is mentioned, most often to use as a from of beating or justification to lambast the German.
The next most talked about player – bar Aubameyang simply because we want him to sign?
The £72m record fee is an albatross that hangs around the players neck – but considering this is the case and the player was plying his trade in a new team, new competition and a new country?
He fared rather well.
Context is key here. Pepe at times was the man who stepped up and made the difference. Pepe created the goal for Aubameyang against Man City in the FA Cup semi-final. He scored the two free-kicks against Vitoria when we were facing a damaging defeat. He scored a wonderful goal against West Ham away from home when we hadn’t won away in months and we were in flux with no permanent coach named.
The Ivorian has shown strong mentality – a bedrock of all great players. He played in a bang-average side at times last season, but his creation and his impact kept us afloat at times. True, there were matches that passed him by but on the whole, Pepe could walk away from last season with his head held high.
This season, expect a big improvement.
Pepe will have had a full campaign behind him. He will know certain defenders and most critically, he will know very well the runs and patterns of his teammates. He will be fitter and stronger. Ally this to his mental strength and we could well have a season with more than 20 goal contributions.
It isn’t beyond the realms of the believable that he could go beyond even that.
That price tag will soon melt from people’s memories.
Watch this space Gooners. Pepe will light up next season.