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Arsenal confirm signing of Ivorian winger Pepe for club-record fee

The winger joins from Lille for an initial fee believed to be in the region of €80m.

Nicolas Pepe signs on the dotted sign.
Nicolas Pepe signs on the dotted sign.
Image: Arsenal FC

ARSENAL HAVE LANDED their man — or at least one of them.

Ivorian winger Nicolas Pepe has joined the Gunners from Ligue 1 outfit Lille for a club-record fee believed to be in the region of €80m (£72.9m) plus potential add-ons.

The deal eclipses that which brought Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to North London in January 2018 and sees Arsenal add another attacking option to their ranks.

The 24-year-old winger will wear the No.19 shirt at the Emirates.

Arsenal boss 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 scored 22 goals and made 11 assists for Lille last season, with only Kylian Mbappe (40) surpassing that combined total.

He added of the move:

“When I knew I was coming to Arsenal, I immediately thought of the French guys who play here. I thought of [Mesut] Ozil, the world champion, [Alexandre] Lacazette, [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang and many more.

“Of course, these are players who sprang to mind because I used to watch them when I was at Lille. Also, Lacazette used to play for Lyon and so I have had the opportunity to play against him. It will be an honour to play alongside him.

“Kolo Toure was with [the Ivory Coast] squad as an assistant coach [at the Africa Cup of Nations],” Pepe added.

“He 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 get right to the very top.

“Toure, [Emannuel] 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.”

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