Saturday 24 August 2019

Emery: €79m Pepe will add pace, power and goals

Pepe’s signing represents a major coup for Unai Emery’s side. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Pepe’s signing represents a major coup for Unai Emery’s side. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Sam Dean

Arsenal have completed the transfer of Lille winger Nicolas Pepe in a deal worth a club-record £72 million (€79m).

The 24-year-old has signed a five-year contract with Arsenal, who have been desperate to recruit a wide player with pace and dynamism.

Pepe's signing represents a major coup for Unai Emery's side, who have shown their ongoing appeal to the world's top players, despite failing to qualify for the Champions League for a third consecutive season.

Pepe was wanted by a series of top European clubs, but elected to join a front-line that also includes Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the club's previous record signing at £56m.

"When I knew I was coming to Arsenal, I immediately thought of the French guys who play here," Pepe told the Arsenal website.

"I thought of 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, so I have had the opportunity to play against him. It will be an honour to play alongside him."

Pepe can operate on either wing, but usually plays on the right, where he can use his speed to cut inside onto his favoured left foot.

He scored 22 goals for Lille in Ligue 1 last season, and was behind only Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe in combined assists and goals in the French top division.

"Nicolas is a highly-rated and talented winger who was wanted by many of the top teams in Europe," said Emery.

"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."

Pepe becomes Arsenal's fourth signing of the summer after Brazilian teenager Gabriel Martinelli, Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos (on loan) and Saint-Etienne defender William Saliba, who has been loaned back to France for the season.

Arsenal are still hoping to complete a deal for Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney and may still make a last-ditch play to sign another centre-back.

Talks over Tierney are set to stretch into the final few days of the transfer window, but it seems increasingly likely that an agreement will be reached. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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