Nicolas Pepe is officially an Arsenal player.
The Ivory Coast winger, 24, has arrived for a club-record fee believed to be in the region of $87 million.
Arsenal will pay this huge transfer fee in instalments, as previously their transfer kitty for this summer was rumored to be around $55 million.
Pepe was unveiled by the Gunners on Thursday and will wear the No.19 shirt, and his new manager Unai Emery seems incredibly excited to welcome the attacker to the Emirates Stadium.
“Nicolas is a highly-rated and talented winger who was wanted by many of the top teams in Europe,” Emery 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.”
Asked about his emotions upon signing for Arsenal, Pepe revealed that he has admired their French players from afar for many years and is delighted to arrive in the Premier League.
“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,” Pepe said.
The Ivory Coast star burst onto the scene last season at Lille, scoring 22 goals in Ligue 1 as they finished second and qualified for the UEFA Champions League.
Arsenal’s attack will now boast Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Pepe, Mesut Ozil, Alex Iwobi, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and youngster Eddie Nketiah. Talk about options.
“When I knew I was coming to Arsenal, I immediately thought of the French guys who play here,” Pepe said. “I thought of Ozil, the world champions, 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. Also, Lacazette used to play for Lyon and so I have had the opportunity to play against him. It will be an honor to play alongside him.”
After hearing about this signing many will point to the fact that the Gunners have been trying to shore up their leaky defense for years, but that’s not Pepe’s problem.
One of the most exciting wingers in the game right now has arrived at Arsenal and this is a huge statement of intent from the club which finished fifth in the Premier League last season, agonizingly missing out on UCL qualification via the league and by losing in the UEFA Europa League final to London rivals Chelsea.
Majority owner Stan Kroenke has been lambasted for failing to spend big money at Arsenal in recent years but after spending a combined $200 million on transfer fees alone on Pepe, Lacazette and Aubameyang, can the Gunners faithful finally cut him some slack?
And that’s probably because Arsenal are still two defensive players away from being a real force in the Premier League this season and beyond. Kieran Tierney could arrive at left back, while the return from injury of Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding will boost their defensive options. But with Laurent Koscielny on his way out, the Gunners still look short of options defensively.
Still, it seems like Emery’s plan is now to win games 6-4 or 5-3 and neutrals everywhere will be keen to watch that with Pepe, Lacazette and Aubameyang in full flow as Dani Ceballos and Mesut Ozil tee them up.
One way or another, it is going to be a lot of fun to watch Arsenal play this season.