Arsenal sign Nicolas Pepe for club-record £72million

Arsenal sign Nicolas Pepe for club-record £72million

Pepe becomes Gunners' fourth signing of the summer and commits to five-year contract.

dave-comerford
David Comerford

Arsenal have announced the signing of Lille forward Nicolas Pepe for £72million, their highest-ever transfer fee.

The Gunners beat off reported competition from a number of top European clubs for the 24-year-old.

After undergoing a medical on Tuesday, Pepe put pen to paper on a five-year deal. 

The fee eclipses Arsenal's previous record of £57million, spent on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 18 months ago.

It is fourth most expensive signing in English football history and the largest since Liverpool snapped up Virgil van Dijk for £75million in January 2018.

The money will be paid in instalments over the next five years.

Why Arsenal have spent the big bucks

After Crystal Palace refused to budge in negotiations for Wilfried Zaha, the club turned their attention to Pepe off the back of an excellent 2018/19 campaign.

He bagged 23 goals and assisted a further 12 across all competitions for Christopher Galtier's side.

Only Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Fabio Quagliarella notched more goal involvements in Europe's top five leagues.

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Pepe's greatest strengths, according to WhoScored, are his dribbling, distance shooting and eye for through balls.

He will form part of an immensely exciting frontline alongside Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette

Pepe reveals Toure influence

Speaking to the club website, Pepe said that he thought long and hard about his next destination, even during Ivory Coast's recent Africa Cup of Nations campaign. 

"It was my family and my agents [who helped me decide]," Pepe, who will wear the number 19 shirt, said. "We talked and thought a lot about it.

"It was at the time of the CAN as well, we thought a lot during, before and after the CAN. It was important to make the right decision and I am convinced that Arsenal is the right choice."

He follows in the footsteps of the likes of Kolo Toure, Gervinho and Emmanuel Eboue as an Ivorian representing Arsenal.

And he explained that Toure, a national team coach, told him what to expect at The Emirates.

"They [Toure, Eboue and Gervinho] are the major players from the Ivory Coast. We talk a lot about Gervinho, for example, who played for Lille and ended up at Arsenal so I am on the same path.

"They are definitely examples to us young Ivorians and I hope we will continue to follow these examples. 

"[Toure] spoke to me a lot about the very high level, how he got to Arsenal and how you always have to work hard and really graft on a daily basis to try and get right to the very top."

He could make his unofficial debut on a prestigious stage, with Unai Emery's team set to face Barcelona at the Nou Camp on Sunday in their final friendly of the summer.

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More to come?

Having already made moves for Gabriel Martinelli, William Saliba and Dani Ceballos, it is unclear how much more business Arsenal will do before next week's deadline.

They are hopeful of bolstering their defence, but a deal for Celtic's Kieran Tierney has proven difficult to strike.

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