Arsenal star Nicolas Pepe withdraws from Ivory Coast squad over injury concerns
What's the story?
Nicolas Pepe has withdrawn from the Ivory Coast squad before his national side's friendly matches against Benin and Tunisia. The country's football federation claims that the former Lille attacker was carrying an injury while reporting for the Elephants.
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Pepe, after having a tremendous 2018/19 season for LOSC Lille where he managed 22 goals and 11 assists in Ligue1, earned an expensive transfer to Arsenal. The agreed transfer deal of £72 million has made the 24-year-old Gunners' most expensive player.
Despite being a high-profile player for Unai Emery, Nicolas Pepe was not in Arsenal's starting XI for the opening two league fixtures. After acclimatising to a new environment, the Ivory Coast international earned his first start against Liverpool at Anfield. Unfortunately, he was not able to make any substantial impact as the Gunners lost 3-1 to the European champions.
The heart of the matter
With the international break in progress, Nicolas Pepe reported at Ivory Coast camp ahead of his national side's friendly matches against Benin and Tunisia. However, the left-footed forward has withdrawn from the squad, courtesy of a minor injury issue.
Regarding the situation surrounding Nicolas Pepe, an official statement from the Ivory Coast Football Federation read as follows:
"Nicolas Pepe, injured in (his) club, came to report his injury on Wednesday late afternoon."
However, it is also claimed that Arsenal and Ivory Coast national team agreed between themselves to not play Nicolas Pepe in these international games. Also, the Ivorian's name was absent from the list of players on international duty released by the London club.
The injury is not considered to be serious with the withdrawal just serving as a precautionary measure.
Having been relieved of his national duties, Nicolas Pepe is set to arrive in London to work on his fitness with Arsenal camp before the Premier League action recommences on September 14.
Arsenal will make a short trip to the Vicarage Road for their next league fixture against Javi Garcia's Watford on Sunday, September 15.Modified Dec 21, 2019