Arsenal have signed Nicolas Pepe from Lille for a club-record £72million – but how do his stats compare to the Gunners’ existing wingers?
The much-hyped Ivorian is coming off the back of brilliant season with Lille in which his goals helped them to a second-place finish in Ligue 1.
But how much will he improve Arsenal? Here’s how his stats compare to the players that Unai Emery played in wide attacking areas last season: Alex Iwobi, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil.
When Emery joined Arsenal, he said: “I like possession with the ball, I like good pressing against the other team. I prefer to win 5-4 than 1-0.”
Two summers ago, Marcelo Bielsa had extensively scouted Pepe at Angers and thought he lived up to that same sort of profile, bringing him to Lille.
While Bielsa’s tenure at Lille didn’t work out, Pepe lived up to the billing – he scored 22 goals and provided 11 assists in Ligue 1 last season – way more than Arsenal’s equivalents managed in the Premier League on both counts.
That’s a goal every 151 minutes, and an assist every 302 minutes, and one or the other every 100.9 minutes. His signing might just tempt you into some matchbook betting.
Mkhitaryan had a record of six goals and four assists, averaging one every 164.6 minutes, while Iwobi contributed three goals and six assists at an average of one every 219.6 minutes, with Ozil the furthest behind – he scored five goals but provided just two assists, averaging of a goal or assist every 248.9 minutes.
Pepe is the most prolific shooter – he takes 3.1 shots per game, considerably more than Mhkitaryan (two), Iwobi (one) and Ozil (0.5).
Another area in which Pepe stands out is his dribbling. He completed 2.8 dribbles per game in Ligue 1 last season, averaging double that of Iwobi (1.3) and offering far, far more than Ozil (0.9) and Mkhitaryan (0.8).
He also draws in a lot more fouls than Arsenal’s current options. He was fouled 2.8 times per game last season in Ligue 1, seven times as often as Mhkitaryan and Iwobi (0.4) and considerably more than Ozil (0.9).
Mkhitaryan tends to be the most diligent worker in terms of defensive contributions. He made the most tackles and interceptions per game (1.1 and 0.6 respectively), considerably up on Ozil (0.5 and 0.2), Iwobi (0.8 and 0.3) and Pepe (0.7 and 0.3)
Ozil just edges Pepe in terms of key passes, the last pass before a team-mate takes a shot. The Germany international makes 1.9 key passes per game, while Pepe averages 1.8. Mkhitaryan averages 1.2 and Iwobi averages 1.1.
Unsurprisingly, Ozil is the tidiest passer of the lot. As well as coming out on top in terms of key passes, he’s got the highest average of passes per game by a long way (46.6), up on Pepe (31.6) as well as Mkhitaryan (31.8) and Iwobi (27.2).
Ozil averages 88.6% pass completion, a fair bit higher than the other three, who are more or less the same. Pepe successfully completed 79.1% of his passes, while Mkhitaryan averaged 79.9% and Iwobi averaged 77.8%.