Ivory Coast international, Nicolas Pepe, is officially an Arsenal player after London-club smashed their transfer record on Thursday to capture him from Lille for a fee believed to be the a region of about £72million.
Pepe has now signed a contract which would keep him at the Emirates until 2024.
Arsenal will however pay an initial £20m with Lille agreeing that the remaining £52m be spread over the next five years due to the Gunners transfer constraints.
The 24-year-old emerged as Unai Emery’s primary target after grabbing headlines in France with his 23-goal haul in 41 games for the Lille last season- including 22 goals in Ligue 1 which was only bettered by World Cup winner, Kylian Mbappe.
The Ivorian, who will have the No 19 at the back of shirt for Arsenal this season, spoke: ‘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 also expressed joy over his new signing and was full of praise for Pepe’s qualities. ‘Nicolas is a highly-rated and talented winger who was wanted by many of the top teams in Europe,’ Unai said.
‘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’s big-money move smashes the club’s record £56m which was set when they bought in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018.
With other top clubs such as Manchester United, Napoli, and Liverpool reported to have been interested in signing the talented African, the Gunners were left worried that they might not be able to land Pepe, especially with their inability to offer the lure of Champions League football to their transfer targets.
Nonetheless, they received enough encouragement that Pepe was relishing a move to the Emirates, and that Lille were open to broker a deal that worked with Arsenal’s current financial situation.
Emery will now focus on trying to strengthen his defence with what is left of his budget with the club believed to be closing in on a £25m deal for Celtic’s Kieran Tierney after seeing two bids for the Scottish defender rejected.