Arsenal complete €80m Nicolas Pépé deal

Lille forward Pépé agrees five-year deal with London club

Pépé is Arsenal’s fourth signing of the summer.

Pépé is Arsenal’s fourth signing of the summer.

 

Nicolas Pépé has completed his move to Arsenal for a club-record fee of €80 million plus add-ons, signing from Lille on a five-year contract.

The deal for the Ivory Coast international outstrips the £56m Arsenal paid to buy Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018. The 24-year-old Pépé, who is left-footed but prefers to play on the right side of a front three, scored 22 goals in the French league last season.

“Nicolas is a highly-rated and talented winger who was wanted by many of the top teams in Europe,” Arsenal’s head coach, Unai Emery, told the club’s website. “Signing a top-class winger has been one of our key objectives in this transfer window and I’m delighted he’s joining. He will add pace, power and creativity, with the aim of bringing more goals to our team.”

Pépé told Arsenal Media: “Being here is very emotional because it has not been easy for me. I have come a long way and struggled a lot and so signing for this great club is a big reward.”

Asked how he would describe his playing style, he said: “Fast. Quick to connect with the ball and a good finisher as well. That is also an area where I have made progress. I would say that I am quick and a dribbler.”

Pépé is Arsenal’s fourth signing of the summer after the midfielder Dani Ceballos, who has joined on loan from Real Madrid, and the teenagers Gabriel Martinelli and William Saliba. Saliba has gone straight back to St-Étienne on loan.

Pépé said in an interview with Arsenal Media: “Being here is very emotional because it has not been easy for me. I have come a long way and struggled a lot and so signing for this great club is a big reward.”

Asked how he would describe his playing style, the Ivory Coast international said: “Fast. Quick to connect with the ball and a good finisher as well. That is also an area where I have made progress. I would say that I am quick and a dribbler.”

Pépé started out as a goalkeeper before reverting to an outfield player during his time with amateur side Poitiers. A switch to Angers followed before he moved to the top flight with Lille in 2017 — scoring 35 league goals in his two seasons with last year’s runners-up in the Ligue 1 title race.

Pépé hopes to follow Alexandre Lacazette, who moved to the Emirates Stadium from Lyon in 2017, in making a major impact with the north London club. “When I knew I was coming to Arsenal, I immediately thought of the French guys who play here,” Pépé told www.Arsenal.com. “I thought of (Mesut) Ozil, the world champions, Lacazette, Aubameyang and many more.

“Of course, these are the players who sprang to mind because I used to watch them when I was at Lille. Also, Lacazette used to play for Lyon and so I have had the opportunity to play against him. It will be an honour to play alongside him.”

It is believed a deal for Celtic full-back Kieran Tierney remains possible after the Scottish champions rejected Arsenal’s first two bids, while the futures of centre-back pairing Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi remain uncertain.

Speaking after Arsenal’s friendly at Angers on Wednesday night, Emery appeared to offer an olive branch to the club captain. Koscielny had refused to travel on a pre-season tour after his request to have his contract terminated to allow him to join another club was rejected by Arsenal.

“At the moment it’s a very personal decision, and we are respecting that,” Emery said. “I am speaking with him and we are going to find the best solution, but overall we need a player like him.”

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