Arsenal star Nicolas Pepe has withdrawn from the Ivory Coast squad to focus on his fitness.
The €72 million club-record signing allegedly suffered an injury while with the Gunners, and he’ll return to their training base ahead of next weekend’s Premier League clash with Watford.
Pepe was late to start pre-season following his involvement in Ivory Coast’s Africa Cup of Nations campaign during the summer.
And the winger has been eased into life at Arsenal , starting two of his first four games in a Gunners shirt.
Pepe has shown signs of promise, but is yet to find the back of the net for his new club.
The former Lille talisman had met up with the Ivory Coast squad during the international break, but Arsenal and the Ivorian Football Federation agreed it was best he did not play in friendlies against Benin and Tunisia.
A statement from the governing body read: “Nicolas Pepe, injured with his club, came in to declare it late on Wednesday afternoon.
“As a reinforcement, the coach appealed to Bagayoko Mamadou.”
Last month, Pepe praised Arsenal boss Unai Emery for helping him settle in to his new surroundings.
He said: “It’s been really good because he speaks French and it has been much easier for us to communicate.
“I am new, the strategy and tactics are new and it really helps that I can get the coach’s assistance. Now I need to learn English and this is something he is helping me with also.
“I chose to come here because it’s a club with a lot of ambition. They have the dream of coming back to the Champions League and I am also an ambitious person, so the choice was very logical.
“I am attracted to the Premier League because it is an extremely intense championship and the best league in the world.
“The idea is to win the Europa League and that is a goal of ours. It’s a European event and our goal is to do better than last season. I believe I will.”