Arsenal may soon face a tricky dilemma over the futures of Nicolas Pepe and Gabriel Martinelli, with decisions set to be made over the pair.
Martinelli, who recently starred in the Gunners’ victory over Liverpool with a goal and an assist, is one of the first names on the teamsheet under Mikel Arteta. The Brazilian has been in exhilarating form to help Arsenal go top of the Premier League.
Nevertheless, the 21-year-old could see his future at Emirates Stadium called into question, with less than two years remaining on his contract. It has already been suggested that Premier League rivals Chelsea are eyeing a swoop for the young forward in what would be a major blow for Arsenal.
It remains to be seen whether the Blues would be tempted to make a move next summer or indeed whether they would wait until Martinelli is available on a free transfer in 2024.
That does not mean Arsenal would be willing to just allow the former Ituano forward to depart without a fight. They are already attempting to retain his services, with Martinelli himself confirming that talks are underway over a new deal.
Speaking after the win over Liverpool, he said: “I want to stay at Arsenal, of course. We are talking [about new deal], so let’s see what is going to happen, but I want to stay at Arsenal, of course.”
Should talks over a new contract bear no fruit, however unlikely this seems, Arsenal may well have the perfect successor for Martinelli – and it is a player they already have on their books.
Club-record signing Pepe has underwhelmed during his time as a Gunner since his switch from Lille back in 2019 – allowing for a 16-goal season during the 2020/21 campaign.
It was hoped that the Ivorian would be able to find his best form during a loan spell back in France at Nice, with Arteta clear on his opinion that Pepe needed more regular football.
Speaking after the winger’s temporary switch was confirmed, the Arsenal manager said: “We decided for every party it was the best decision to allow him to go. He needs to play minutes, he needs to play football. He was really adamant to do that and we decided that it would be best for everybody to do it.
“He needed minutes, he has been craving minutes and talking to me a lot about that, I couldn’t guarantee that right now, what he was looking for.
“At some stage, if you extend that period for too long then frustration comes in and the level of performance won’t get to what we want and we decided that was the best thing to do for all parties.”
The decision to allow Pepe to leave appears to have been for the best. He already has three goals to his name this season and turned in a brilliant performance in his most recent outing against Troyes – scoring a goal and winning a penalty.
Ironically, that came only hours after Martinelli sparkled against Liverpool, further highlighting the decisions facing Arteta and technical director Edu over the futures of the two forwards.