Arsenal boss, Mikel Arteta, has revealed that winger, Nicolas Pepe, is suffering at Emirates in the midst of widespread criticism.
Pepe joined Arsenal from Lille in August 2019 for £72 million.
The 25-year-old netted 37 goals in 79 appearances for Lille but has so far been unable to reach the same heights at Arsenal.
The Ivorian international scored 13 goals in his first 61 outings for the North London club, including just five this season.
The former Lille star has been in and out of Mikel Arteta’s squad in recent months and he invited the wrath of the club’s fans after he was sent off for headbutting Ezgjan Alioski in Arsenal’s 0-0 draw with Leeds United in November.
Pepe was dropped to the bench as Manchester City defeated Arsenal 4-1 in the Carabao Cup quarter-final on Tuesday night.
“He is hurting, he is suffering – believe me, I’m close to him – and he is trying his best,” Arteta told reporters before Arsenal’s elimination from the Carabao Cup.
“He feels the responsibility because he knows why the club brought him here and he wants to deliver that.”
Arteta added: “I would always defend my players. Whatever I’ve to discuss with him, it’ll be internally.
“Pepe wants to do his best and help as much as he possibly can. This is what I’m interested in.
“It is my job, and if he doesn’t, it’s my fault. He is trying his best.
“We all know Nico, and sometimes his body language makes him feel bad.”
Pepe will now hope to feature for Arsenal when they take on Chelsea on Saturday in their next Premier League fixture.