Cape Town - Arsenal boss Unai Emery is backing Nicolas Pepe to justify his price-tag but said the player needs "time and patience".
The Gunners splashed out a fee in excess of £70 million to recruit the Ivory Coast forward in the summer but he has yet to make the desired impact for the Gunners.
He has scored just once, a penalty in a 3-2 win over Aston Villa, and missed a fine chance to open the scoring as Arsenal slipped to a 1-0 loss at Sheffield United on Monday night.
Such inconsistent displays have seen people question the size of the fee paid to Lille to acquire the 24-year-old.
Emery likened his situation to Fabinho, who he confirmed that he wanted to sign from Monaco when he was in charge at Paris Saint-Germain and when he took charge at the Emirates.
However, the 26-year-old Brazilian moved to Premier League rivals Liverpool instead and has gradually become a key man in Jurgen Klopp’s squad, having barely played in his first six months at Anfield.
Emery said: "We need patience, but Pepe is improving. On Monday, the key to win was with him. If he scores the first goal, it's different.
"But it's one process and I believe in him and I know we need time and patience. The supporters have patience, some more than others."
Pepe is likely to sit out Thursday night’s Europa League Group F clash at home to Vitoria Guimaraes – but Emery could yet opt to include him in his side to give him another chance to impress and win over the early doubters.
The Gunners lead their group by three points after winning their opening two games against Eintracht Frankfurt and Standard Liege.
If Pepe fails to feature in Europe, he will be back in the side to face Crystal Palace at Emirates Stadium in the Premier League on Sunday.
- TeamTalk Media