(Reuters) - Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe may have had a slow start to life at the north London club but manager Unai Emery is prepared to go the extra mile to help unlock the Ivorian forward’s potential.
Pepe joined the Premier League side from Lille in the close season for a club-record fee that the British media reported was around 72 million pounds ($88.58 million), but the 24-year-old has managed only one goal in seven league appearances.
“Pepe is an amazing player. I’m sure he is going to have a big career here,” Emery told reporters ahead of Thursday’s Europa League clash against Standard Liege.
“He needs time... a lot of players when they came here, the first month, the first year is not easy for them. But I’m going to work with him to make that adaptation easier.”
Pepe’s only goal came from the penalty spot in last month’s 3-2 win against Aston Villa but Emery said the forward must look at any pressure that he was facing as a privilege.
“You’re a privileged player to be here as I’m a privileged coach... and we are playing to achieve something important. It’s demanding but I’m not feeling pressure as a negative thing. I’m very demanding to push players,” Emery said.
“We’re in a great team and we have a big responsibility but it is positive. If we can do that, we’ll be able to achieve good things, big things... it’s natural to play under pressure.”
Emery brushed off questions on whether Pepe’s transfer fee was a burden on him.
“They are human, every player. When they are here working, playing, with us... we don’t want and it is not relevant for us to speak about the money,” the Spaniard said.
“Not for him, not for another, young player or experienced players. Salaries are not important for me. They are players, they are human and they play not thinking about that.”
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Amlan Chakraborty