Nicolas Pépé's frustrating saga at Arsenal may soon come to an end - at least temporarily - after reports have surfaced linking the Ivorian international winger with a possible escape route back to France this summer.
According to Foot Mercato journalist Santi Aouna, Ligue 1 outfit OGC Nice may turn to Pépé this summer in a loan move for the 27-year-old winger who is very much on the outside looking in at the Emirates Stadium under Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, with the report suggesting that both Arsenal and Pépé are open to the move after talks have already gotten under way.
Pépé arrived in north London in the summer of 2019 under then Gunners boss Unai Emery for a club record £72m after the French-born winger came to life at LOSC Lille across a fantastic two-year spell at the club in the wake of falling short at both US Orléans and Angers SCO.
During his time at Lille, Pépé hit 35 goals and added 16 assists across 72 appearances in Ligue 1 which promoted then Arsenal director Raul Sanllehi to sanction the big-money move despite Emery wanting Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha instead.
It turns out that Emery was right after all, with Pépé managing just 16 goals in three Premier League seasons since his arrival, with the writing on the wall for his future at the club after logging just 681-minutes last term in the league despite making 20 appearances.
The Ivorian does remain a talented player, however, and perhaps a return to familiar settings in France could reignite his career as he enters his prime years.
Nice does already have five players occupying wide births at the club in the vein of Calvin Stengs, Billal Brahimi, and summer acquisitions Rares Ilie, Lucas Da Cunha, and Badredine Bouanani, but the aforementioned wide quintet are all 23 years old or younger, with Pépé's experience at the highest level serving him in good stead by comparison.
And Arsenal would certainly jump at the chance to shed his wages off the books as well as make room for any potential additional summer signing before the transfer window closes, as the Gunners remain linked with possible business for a wide player.
Links with Villarreal’s Spanish starlet Yéremy Pino, who features on the same flank as Pépé, could accelerate should the Ivorian jump ship this season to Nice, but it remains certain that - baring an unexpected change of events - Pépé's time at Arsenal has all but come to an end.