Despite the constant ridiculing about a reported £45 million transfer budget, the club captain wanting a move away, being out spent by a team with a transfer ban and so on, Arsenal are closing in on a stunning high profile signing.
Sky Sports confirmed yesterday that the Gunners have agreed a £72 million fee with Lille for their star winger Nicolas Pepe. The Ivory Coast international had a stellar 2018/19, making him subject of interest from several top European clubs. The latest news coming in from Sky is that he is expected to have a medical this week, something that will really excite the red side of North London.
Pepe had been on the radar of of Liverpool, Napoli and allegedly Manchester United, with the Italian side also agreeing a £72 million fee with the Ligue 1 side. Yet after representatives rejected Napoli’s terms, the winger is now London bound. But why is Pepe commanding such a high fee and so highly rated. Here’s all you need to know about the 24 year old:
Pepe made a name for himself at French 3rd division side US Orleans (on loan from Angers), scoring an impressive 7 goals in 29 games to help the side achieve promotion from the 3rd tier.
The Ivorian’s return to Angers the following season produced 3 goals in 33 games (2016/170, which was enough for Lille to be interested in him, acquiring him for just €10 million. Since joining Les Dogues, Pepe has gone from strength to strength with 50 goal contributions across his last two seasons.
Nicolas Pepe’s 2018/19 Ligue 1 stats:
The stats above speak for themselves, the former Angers forward is dynamic, exciting on the eye but most importantly, finds the back of the net time and time again.
At 6ft, Pepe possesses a unique skillset with both the strength to hold off defenders and the blistering pace to beat his man. He described former coach Marcelo Bielsa as ‘special’ and the Argentine manager helped develop the Ivorian into an unstoppable attacker.
He is able to play on either flank or as a striker, the versatility that Arsenal are crying out for. But the position he prefers is on the right, allowing him to cut inside on his left and unleashing the devastating shot he has.
3.1 shots per game and 2.7 dribbles per game in Ligue 1 last season highlight the flair Pepe brings and how he is constantly a nightmare for opposition defenders. But not only is the winger a natural goalscorer, he is also an effective provider with 1.8 key passes per 90 and of course his sublime 11 assists.
Be excited Arsenal fans, be very excited. Though the fee looks high at first glance, Pepe could prove to be one of the signings of the season. Oh and I’d always go as far to say he’s a better signing than Wilfried Zaha, that output he has is ridiculously good.
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