Nicolas Pepe’s OGC Nice debut vs Marseille: BREAKDOWN

By ballprogression
5 Min Read

Nicolas Pepe’s move to OGC Nice was finalised fairly quickly despite some late interest (and a better financial package for Arsenal) from Leicester City. Perhaps the most telling sign of how adamant Pepe was to change his fortunes and bring his career back on the right track was the information that surfaced later, revealing that the wage split ended up being 50% Nice, 25% Arsenal, and the remaining 25% which was reportedly let go by Pepe himself. The amount equated to a whopping 2.5m euros according to the ever-reliable David Ornstein.

Pepe made his debut starting from the first minute for Lucien Favre’s side.

It was a match in which Arsenal fans could recognize plenty of faces with no less than 6 former/current players making an appearance.

Nicolas Pepe looked to get on the ball as soon as possible and Kolasinac made sure he knows he was there from the first whistle. A crunching tackle that in some way set the tone for Pepe.

He ended up being the most fouled player on the pitch with a total of 6 fouls suffered.

Nico looked lively, he looked to get on the ball as much as possible but suffered at the hand of an early goal-led Marseille. Tudor looked to cut him off the game all game long and he managed to do it for the most part.

What didn’t help his case is the fact he looked rusty and lacked match-playing sharpness. The few times he did find himself in open space, he couldn’t quite burst past people and his touch looked off on a few occasions. Does Favre know how to get the best out of him? It’s way too early to tell but it definitely looked like he has the freedom to roam from the right wing, this became especially noticeable when Nice were chasing goals in the second half. With Gouiri and Stengs on the verge of leaving, Pepe might find himself as the only real runner behind in an attack of Claude-Maurice and Delort. This is precisely the role where he should thrive.

Pepe did show his trickery and quick feet in moments but one moment especially took the eye of spectators. Unfortunately, he couldn’t apply the finish but it showed why Marseille looked to close him down in numbers all game long.

It’s also worth noting that Atal – who came on in the second half is someone who Pepe could potentially profit off. Atal held width for him the few times they got close to each other in attacking sequences but ultimately didn’t end up producing anything meaningful. He’s a pacey fullback who can draw people onto him and let Pepe loose. Future connection?

Pepe took some scolding at the end of the game too, “[Pepe] He hasn’t played for a long time in England. He has done the pre-season with Arsenal but he hasn’t played any matches. He is lacking a bit of rhythm, intensity in his placements, his pressing and in his ball recovery, because everyone has to do that.”

“There aren’t any exceptions. If one or two players don’t do the work, the whole team is in trouble. Everyone has to do it at the same time, everyone has to defend to recover the ball. “

Overall Nico Pepe cannot be overly happy with his debut but so can’t Nice with their play. But it seems Nice trusts Favre and they’ve shown that by bringing in another exciting young talent in Sofiane Diop for a sum of 20 million euros in recent days. Can Pepe strike find his place under the sun alongside players like Aaron Ramsey who looks to rejuvenate his career? Only time will tell but Pepe has made the right choice by choosing familiar territory in Ligue 1 to bounce back.

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