Mikel Arteta is confident Nicolas Pepe will enjoy a stellar Arsenal career and insists the club’s record signing is showing signs of significant progress.
The Ivory Coast international set the Gunners back an eye-watering £72million last summer but the winger failed to cope with the pressure that accompanied his price tag.
Unai Emery had championed the signing of Wilfried Zaha but was overruled by the club’s board and it wasn’t until Arteta’s arrival that Pepe began to show flashes of his true potential.
Pepe made his first start of the season against Leicester City in the midweek Carabao Cup win any played a key role in the build-up to the opening goal of the game.
Whether the 25-year-old has done enough to keep his place at Anfield on Monday remains to be seen, but Arteta has been delighted by Pepe’s attitude in recent weeks.
He said: ‘I think he’s come a long way. We know what the club paid for him when he joined and that was obviously an extra pressure but he’s a player who’s had to adapt, it’s a different style.
‘He has a really good attitude. We can see development in a lot of phases of his game.
‘He’s very settled here, he’s liked by the boys, he’s a really good character to have around and I’m really positive that we’re going to have him for many years and that he can perform at a really high level consistently.’
On how Pepe has helped the Brazilian centre-half, Arteta added: ‘I think it’s always nice for them to have some compatriots next to them, it obviously makes things a lot easier in the first few months when they cannot speak the language.
‘I think for both of them they know each other and they’ve spent some time together now. I think it’s a positive thing.’