ARSENAL have confirmed the club record signing of Nicolas Pepe for £72million.
Pepe has signed a five-year-deal at the Emirates and takes over from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the most expensive player in the club’s history.
The Gunners beat off competition from Napoli to land the Lille winger in a deal which will see them spread the payments over the full term of his contract.
The 24-year-old Ivory Coast star will now link straight up with Unai Emery’s squad and could make his first appearance in the prestige friendly against Barcelona on Sunday.
Arsenal’s capture of Pepe was something of a shock during a summer which has seen them battle against budgetary restraints limiting the players Emery could sign.
The Gunners had first tried to prise Wilfried Zaha away from Crystal Palace to provide the extra attacking edge the manager was after,
But their initial bid of £40m was laughed away by Palace who were demanding double that – a figure Arsenal just could not go to.
And Pepe, who had been tracked by a series of top clubs across Europe, appeared destined for a move to Serie A when Napoli reached an agreement with Lille for his services.
The Italians believed they had got the deal done – only for Arsenal’s Head of Recruitment Raul Sanllehi to steal in under the radar and match the bid.
Crucially he was able to structure a deal which will see the London club meet the asking price over five annual instalments, which allows him to fit within the financial constraints in place at the Emirates.
It leaves the Gunners with a fearsome looking attacking united of Pepe, Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette as Emery puts together a trio who will strike fear across Premier League defences.
Arsenal fans are so enthusiastic about the prospect of the three linking up they have voted their front three better than the group at Liverpool – which sees Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino link up.
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