Nicolas Pepe has been axed by Arsenal some four years after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted to bring him to Manchester United.

United have been trying to find a consistent option down the right flank for years now.

Jadon Sancho arrived in 2021 but hasn’t been able to recapture his Borussia Dortmund form in a United shirt.

Antony was the next to arrive, following Erik ten Hag from Ajax in 2022 but hasn’t built on a debut goal against Arsenal and is now on a break from United.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had one target in mind back in 2019 – but it has now become clear that United had a very lucky escape.

Solskjaer wanted Nicolas Pepe at Manchester United

United spent big in 2019, luring Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire to Old Trafford.

James wasn’t the only winger wanted though as The Times reported in July 2019 that Solskjaer was ‘pushing’ for United to splash £70million on Nicolas Pepe.

The Ivorian had been outstanding for Lille, smashing 37 goals and 18 assists in 79 games for the Ligue 1 side.

Solskjaer seemingly felt that Pepe could be United’s long-term answer down the right flank, long before the big-money purchases of Sancho and Antony.

We can’t blame Solskjaer for being impressed with Pepe in France, but it’s a great relief that United didn’t sanction that £70million deal.

Arsenal Training Session
Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsenal release Nicolas Pepe

Pepe instead joined Arsenal in that summer of 2019 as they forked out a staggering £72million deal.

The move has been a complete disaster for Arsenal, with Pepe becoming fairly irrelevant due to Bukayo Saka’s emergence.

Pepe did bag 27 goals and 21 assists in 112 games but Mikel Arteta just didn’t fancy him and he spent last season on loan at Nice.

Completely unwanted at Arsenal, Pepe has now had his contract terminated by the Gunners with one year left on his deal.

Pepe was a club-record signing when he arrived and few would have expected him to have his contract ripped up.

Pepe has now moved on to Turkey, joining Trabzonspor as he brings an end to a dismal time in North London.

This could have been United in this situation, splashing huge cash on Pepe only to then have to send him packing.

If Sancho and Antony don’t turn their United careers around, it could yet be them in that position – but United will at least be relieved at having dodged Pepe.

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