Just when Arsenal fans looked set to have yet another disappointing transfer window, Unai Emery has managed to bring in Lille’s star player, Nicolas Pepe, for £72 million.
The Ivorian is Arsenal’s record signing, who has been brought in with plenty of time to spare before the transfer window slams shut.
Arsenal fans will be elated, having failed to land Pepe’s international teammate in Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace.
Arsenal will pay the £72 million fee in installments over the course of his five-year-deal, which is why Pepe was able to be brought to the Emirates.
It was rumoured Liverpool, Manchester United and Napoli among others were all looking to secure the 24-year-old’s signature but Arsenal have been able to pull off one of the biggest transfers of the summer.
One of the main reasons Pepe chose to sign for Arsenal over the three clubs mentioned is due to Arsenal’s rich history of nurturing French-based players, such as Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and former club captain, Patrick Vieira. Arsenal signed Matteo Guendouzi last summer from Lorient, who has also shone in the famous red and white.
Pepe was also keen to work under Unai Emery, a man who has had a huge amount of success in Europe over recent years, and Pepe would have played against his PSG side during the Spaniard’s reign.
So what can Arsenal expect from their new £72 million pound man? Well, for starters, the winger certainly knows where the back of the net is. Since arriving at Lille from Angers back in 2017, the 24-year-old has bagged 35 goals in 74 appearances.
He took Ligue 1 by storm last season, scoring 22 goals as well as conjuring up 11 assists, helping Lille to finish second, only behind cash-rich PSG. Only PSG’s Kylian Mbappe scored more.
The French-born Ivorian picked up the man of the match award when Lille thrashed PSG 5-1. He’s also performed admirably for Ivory Coast, scoring four goals for 15 appearances for his country.
His style of play will definitely keep Arsenal fans on the edge of their seats, as he is very direct and isn’t afraid to take on his man. The thought of him linking up with Lacazette and Aubameyang will definitely give opposition defenders nightmares. His addition adds some firepower to an already potent forward line.
Despite this, Arsenal remain rank outsiders to challenge for the title. Premier League betting suggests Arsenal will be challenging for a Champions League spot once again, rather than silverware.
But one thing is for sure, Pepe is the real deal. He lit up Ligue 1 last season and plenty of teams were keen to sign him up this summer.
The appeal of working for a proven manager in North London, as well as linking up with some of the best talent in the Premier League was too much, and he will be a pleasure to watch next season.