If reports are to be believed, Arsenal are on the verge of signing Lille winger Nicolas Pepe.
News broke over the weekend that Arsenal had an $80 million bid for Nicolas Pepe accepted. It’s news that came out of the blue, and has Arsenal fans shocked and excited.
Nicolas Pepe would be a real coup for the gunners. He helped Lille finish second in Ligue 1 last season, scoring 22 goals and making 11 assists in the process. Over 38 games, only Kylian Mbappé had more impressive numbers.
As a result, Pepe has attracted interest from PSG, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea.
The 24-year-old was thought to be above both Arsenal’s price range and current prestige. However, if he signs, he could lift Arsenal back up to where they once were. A Lacazette – Aubameyang – Pepe attacking trio is a mouthwatering prospect.
It’s also a surprising development because although it’s clear Arsenal want a winger, they seemed to be looking elsewhere.
Their pursuit of Crystal Palace winger Wilfred Zaha looked set to be a summer-long transfer saga. Additionally, it was rumored that they had conducted a medical with Brazil winger Everton Soares.
Arsenal’s lack of funds and general transfer buffoonery were thought to be barriers to both those deals. This is why the Pepe news was so shocking.
At $80 million, he’s no cheaper than Zaha, who probably would have gone for around £60 million. That’s £20 million more than Arsenal could pay at once, and £20 million less than Palace value him at.
Having just sold Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Manchester United for £50 million, Palace are in no need to sell. They did not have to indulge Arsenal’s humming and hawing.
It seems the structure of the deal is key here, with Lille willing to let Arsenal pay the transfer fee in installments over a number of years.
From Arsenal’s perspective, they get a player three years younger than Zaha. So, there is potentially a higher ceiling. Although, there is also the potential that Pepe fails to adapt to Arsenal and the Premier League.
Time, and Arsenal’s new executive structure, will tell if Pepe’s move to North London will be a success.