Arsenal star Nicolas Pepe ‘pulls plug on deal’ hours before Saudi window shuts

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Arsenal winger Nicolas Pepe has rejected a move to Saudi Arabia just hours before the end of the country’s transfer window, according to reports. The Ivorian forward has been widely tipped to leave Arsenal since the end of last season, having spent the previous campaign on loan with Nice.

Pepe has been mentioned in connection with a move to the Saudi Pro League over the last few days, with their transfer window staying open for longer than its English equivalent. However, the 28-year-old has no interest in making the switch and would instead prefer to join Trabzonspor, according to Fabrizio Romano.

It is said that Pepe, who has been deemed surplus to requirements by Mikel Arteta, is ‘not convinced’ by the approaches he has received from Saudi Arabia. His priority will be to finalise a move to Trabzonspor, with negotiations having taken place behind closed doors.

Arsenal are thought to be ready and willing to sanction Pepe’s exit, given that he is not in their plans for the campaign ahead. A mutual termination of his contract appears to be the most likely option, which would allow him to join Trabzonspor on a free transfer.

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It has since been reported by Sports Digitale that Trabzonspor have reached a full agreement on personal terms with Pepe, with a private plane having been arranged to pick him up from London. The only thing holding up the deal is said to be Pepe’s ongoing dialogue with Arsenal, who are expected to facilitate the move by ending the winger’s contract a year early.

Pepe was signed for a transfer fee of around £72million four years ago but has failed to make the grade in north London despite his best efforts. He showed flashes of brilliance during his time at Nice, though, and still has plenty of time left to get his career back on track at the age of 28.

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The former Lille winger recently suggested that he could have been a useful asset for Arsenal last season if Mikel Arteta had not loaned him out, telling France Bleu: “I don’t know what Arsenal want to do. I still have a lot of friends there. I could have been important for this club, but it’s the manager’s choice.

“Today, I am back at 100 per cent even if it will take me a little time to find the rhythm. Despite the injury, I wanted to stay with the team and come to training, I’ve always done that.”

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