SPORTS

Arsenal complete Nicolas Pepe transfer in club record £72m deal from Lille

Arsenal have completed the £72million transfer of Nicolas Pepe from Lille – making the Ivory Coast international their most expensive signing.

Winger Pepe has agreed a five-year contract at the Emirates having undergone a medical on Tuesday, following the two clubs settling on the fee over the weekend.

The Gunners will part with £20million now, with the following £52million being split over the next four years – Lille receiving £13million per year – to avoid smashing their budget.

Ivorian Pepe had also been on the radar of Manchester United, Liverpool, Everton and Paris-Saint Germain, while Napoli had lodged a bid, which was rejected.

It is believed the winger was convinced by Arsenal’s “sporting project”, whilst they were willing to pay the agents’ fees and commissions demanded by his team of representatives to steal the march in the transfer race.

Head coach Unai Emery said: “Nicolas is a highly-rated and talented winger who was wanted by many of the top teams in Europe.

“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 is likely to form an intimidating front line alongside Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Lacazette and Aubameyang netted 50 goals between themselves last season as the Gunners finished a disappointing fifth in the Premier League and reached the Europa League final.

Discussing Pepe prior to him signing, Emery said: “Pepe is a very good player and also we are thinking only of players who can really, really improve this squad and also give us some different conditions to improve.”

Pepe made 41 appearances for Lille last season, to help the outfit finish second in the French top tier.Pepe is delighted to sign for ArsenalMirror Football’s Top Stories

He was the French club’s top scorer, with 23 goals, and only PSG superstar Kylian Mbappe notched more times in Ligue 1.

The 24-year-old was most recently part of the Ivorian side which were knocked out in the quarter-finals of this month’s African Cup of Nations.

Since then he has been on holiday, during which time his future has been widely discussed.

The Gunners have already signed Gabriel Martinelli from Ituano, William Saliba from Saint Etienne, who has been sent back to the French side for the 2019/20 season, and Dani Ceballos on a season loan from Real Madrid.

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