Pepe talk’s over as £72m winger signs for Arsenal
Gunners finally unveil their record buy
02 August, 2019 — By Steve Barnett
Nicolas Pepe scored 22 goals for Lille in Ligue 1 last season
NEW record signing Nicolas Pepe says he will add plenty of “pace and dribbling” to the Arsenal team after completing his £72million move from Lille yesterday (Thursday).
The 24-year-old Ivory Coast international described signing a five-year contract at the Emirates as “emotional”, adding that he can’t wait to link up with Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The winger scored 22 goals in Ligue 1 last season, second only to Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe. He also provided 11 assists – also the second most in the division – as Lille finished runners-up to PSG.
Quizzed on which of Arsenal’s star players sprang to mind when he knew he was joining, Pepe told the club’s official website: “The French guys who play here. Then I also thought of Mesut Ozil, 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.
“Lacazette used to play for Lyon, so I have had the opportunity to play against him and it will be an honour to play alongside him.”
On what he will bring to the team, Pepe added: “I’m fast, quick to connect with the ball and a good finisher. That is an area where I have made progress. I would say that I am quick and a dribbler.
“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. I am convinced Arsenal is the right choice.”
Pepe, who will wear the number 19 shirt, is the Gunners’ fourth signing of the summer, following forward Gabriel Martinelli, midfielder Dani Ceballos, who joined on a season-long loan from Real Madrid, and defender William Saliba, who was signed from St Etienne and immediately loaned back to the Ligue 1 side.
Manager Unai Emery said: “Signing a top-class winger has been one of our key objectives in this transfer window and I’m delighted Pepe’s joining. He will add pace, power and creativity, with the aim of bringing more goals to our team.
“Before starting the new Premier League season, the first match in Newcastle, our aim is to get the best team with the best players in our squad.”
Meanwhile, Arsenal will continue their pre-season preparations on Sunday when they play Barcelona at Camp Nou on Sunday at 7pm.