Nicolas Pepe has become Arsenal’s record signing after joining from Lille for £72million on a five-year contract.
Arsenal will pay an initial £20m with the remaining £52m spread over the next five years due to their transfer constraints.
The 24-year-old had emerged as the Gunners’ primary target after hitting 23 goals in 41 games for the Ligue 1 side last season – his 22 league goals leaving him behind only Kylian Mbappe in the scoring charts.
Pepe has put pen to paper on a sensational five-year contract with the north London outfit
The 24-year-old winger scored 23 goals in 41 games for the Ligue 1 outfit last season
THE PROBLEM SOLVER
Arsenal’s stunning club-record capture of Nicolas Pepe was prioritised in the hope that he will help cure their travel sickness.
Although their defensive issues need addressing urgently, the £72m move for Pepe was completed first, as he signed a five-year deal.
Arsenal’s form on the road last season was a major handicap and the reason why they missed out on the Champions League. Yet this pacey forward, rather than a solid centre-back, is seen as the player that could provide the solution.
While they were the Premier League’s third best side at home with 45 points last season, Arsenal picked up just 25 away from the Emirates Stadium, losing eight times and drawing four matches, giving them the eighth-best record in the division.
Arsenal finished just a point outside the top four and failing to qualify for the Champions League put a significant dent in their transfer budget this summer.
The forward, who will wear the No 19 shirt, said: ‘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. It was important to make the right decision and I am convinced that Arsenal is the right choice.’
Arsenal boss Unai Emery added: ‘Nicolas is a highly-rated and talented winger who was wanted by many of the top teams in Europe.
Pepe will form a fearsome attack with Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The former Lille man will be desperate to take the Premier League by storm next season
‘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.’
The big-money move smashes the club’s record, set when they bought Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund for £56m in January 2018.
Arsenal were originally concerned they might not be able to land Pepe amid the fierce competition for his signature this summer and their inability to offer the lure of Champions League football to prospective signings.
Pepe could be included in Arsenal’s travelling squad for the pre-season friendly with Barcelona
Pepe will get his first taste of Premier League action when Arsenal face Newcastle on August 11.
But once they received sufficient encouragement that Pepe wanted to move to the Emirates and Lille were open to a structured deal that worked with Arsenal’s financial situation they put the wheels in motion to bring him to the Emirates.
Emery will now focus on trying to strengthen his defence with what is left of his budget.
Arsenal are closing in on a £25m deal for Celtic’s Kieran Tierney, having restructured their offer after seeing two bids rejected and also want a senior centre-back.
Their backline will also be further reinforced by the returns from injury of Rob Holding and Hector Bellerin who have both been sidelined with serious knee injuries.
The left-footed attacker joined Lille from Angers in 2017 for a fee of around £8million
Pepe chose to represent Ivory Coast over his native France and has four goals from 15 caps.
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