Arsenal ‘star’ Nicolas Pepe reminiscent of club legend Thierry Henry, says Graeme Souness

Winger netted and recorded two assists in 4-0 win over Newcastle

Alex Jennings
Monday 17 February 2020 19:43
Comments
Pépé and Guendouzi reveal their childhood heroes

Nicolas Pepe can emulate Arsenal legend Thierry Henry and become a star despite suffering a slow start to life in north London, Graeme Souness has said.

Pepe joined Arsenal for a club-record £72 million fee in August after bagging 22 goals and 11 assists in Ligue 1 in 2018/19.

The Ivorian, 24, has flattered to deceive at times since his arrival at the Emirates, leading to criticism from some quarters over his sizeable price tag.

Pepe has scored just three goals from open play in 22 Premier League appearances for the Gunners and struggled for minutes towards the end of Unai Emery’s time as Arsenal boss.

But when speaking after Arsenal’s 4-0 victory over Newcastle on Sunday, in which Pepe scored once and assisted twice, Souness was full of praise for the winger, even comparing him to Arsenal’s record goalscorer Henry.

“I think there is a real, real player in there,” said Souness. “You think of their best ever player Thierry [Henry]. He came here and didn’t have a great first season, took some time.

“I see Pepe being a star here, great feet, electric and still a baby.”

Henry scored 26 goals in all competitions in his first season in England following an £11m move from Juventus, where he struggled to make an impression.

Despite coming good by the end of his first term in north London, Henry had an underwhelming start to life at Arsenal, failing to score in his first eight games and only finding the net twice in his first 17 appearances in all competitions.

Like Pepe, at the time of his arrival Henry was a club-record signing, in his early twenties and primarily a winger. Both enjoyed fruitful cameos in Europe’s second-tier competition, even as their Arsenal careers faltered in their very formative stages.

Henry went on to score 226 goals for Arsenal in eight years that saw the Frenchman win the Premier League twice and awarded its Golden Boot four times.

He left for Barcelona for £16m in 2007 and won the Champions League in his second season in Spain.

Henry added two more goals to his Arsenal tally when briefly on loan from New York Red Bulls in 2012.

In the same Sky Sports segment in which he praised Pepe, former Liverpool player Souness was critical of the winger’s team-mate Mesut Ozil.

“How do you make him focus where he’s bang at it every time he goes out and crosses the white line?” he asked. “Does be bust a gut? No. Does he do the hard yards? No, he doesn’t always.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in