English Premiership

Pepe - 'Being here is very emotional'

Nicolas Pepe (Arsenal website)
Nicolas Pepe (Arsenal website)

Cape Town - Ivory Coast forward Nicolas Pepe has reflected on his 'emotional' move to Arsenal after joining the Gunners for a club-record fee from Lille.

The 24-year-old Ivory Coast international has joined the Gunners for an undisclosed fee believed to be worth £72million, which is expected to be paid in instalments.

Pepe’s move eclipses the £55million spent on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January 2018 as Arsenal add another attacking option to their ranks.

Arsenal confirmed the paperwork for the move, which is “subject to the completion of regulatory processes” had been finalised on Thursday, and Pepe would wear the number 19 shirt. The length of the deal was not announced, but is believed to be for five years.

Pepe scored 22 Ligue 1 goals last season and was linked with a host of clubs over the summer including Manchester United and Napoli.

Arsenal emerged late last week as the somewhat surprising front-runners and have now sealed the former Angers player’s services.

PA understands Arsenal’s analysis team pinpointed the need for more pace and skill in attack as a way of improving their form away from home.

Pepe said in an interview with Arsenal Media: “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.”

Asked how he would describe his playing style, the Ivory Coast international said: “Fast. Quick to connect with the ball and a good finisher as well. That is also an area where I have made progress.

“I would say that I am quick and a dribbler.”

Pepe started out as a goalkeeper before reverting to an outfield player during his time with amateur side Poitiers.

A switch to Angers followed before he moved to the top flight with Lille in 2017 – scoring 35 league goals in his two seasons with last year’s runners-up in the Ligue 1 title race.

Pepe hopes to follow Alexandre Lacazette, who moved to the Emirates Stadium from Lyon in 2017, in making a major impact with the north London club.

“When I knew I was coming to Arsenal, I immediately thought of the French guys who play here,” Pepe told www.Arsenal.com.

“I thought of (Mesut) 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.

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