Nicolas Pepe has withdrawn from the Ivory Coast squad and will return to London to train with Arsenal for the remainder of the international break.
The winger became the third most expensive signing in Premier League history when he joined Arsenal in the summer transfer window, completing a move from Lille for £72m fee. He’s yet to find the back of the net for the Gunners, but he has put in a string of promising performances as he continues to settle into life in England.
Football.London are reporting that, after initially being called up to represent Ivory Coast in friendlies against Benin and Tunisia, Pepe will now return to train with Arsenal.
There were concerns that Pepe had returned to Arsenal due to injury, as a statement on Ivory Coast’s website appeared to suggest that Pepe was not fully fit when he arrived at the national camp earlier in the week.
The statement simply read: “Nicolas Pépé, injured with his club, came in to declare it late on Wednesday afternoon.”
However, Football.London have dismissed any notion that Pepe is carrying an injury and have stated that he is returning to London in order to work on his fitness.
Pepe’s involvement in the Africa Cup of Nations interrupted his pre-season schedule and both parties have agreed that it would be beneficial for him to travel back to England.
This all means that Pepe could be in line to start for the second game in succession when Arsenal travel to face lowly Watford after the international break comes to an end.