August 1, 2019 / 4:09 PM / 25 days ago

Arsenal sign Ivorian forward Pepe in club record deal

(Reuters) - Arsenal have signed forward Nicolas Pepe from French club Lille for a club-record fee, the Premier League side said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Ligue 1 - Lille v Angers - Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille, France - May 18, 2019 Lille's Nicolas Pepe in action REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Financial details of the transfer were not revealed but British media reported it was around 72 million pounds, eclipsing the 56 million pounds paid to Borussia Dortmund for striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang last year.

"Nicolas is a highly-rated and talented winger who was wanted by many of the top teams in Europe," Arsenal manager Unai Emery said in a statement here

“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.”

The 24-year-old Ivory Coast international signed a five-year deal and will wear the number 19 shirt at the London club.

Pepe, who was also linked with many European clubs in the close season, scored 22 goals in Ligue 1 last season — second only to Paris St Germain’s Kylian Mbappe who scored 33 goals — and also grabbed 11 assists.

“Being here is very emotional because it has not been easy for me,” said Pepe. “I have come a long way and struggled a lot and so signing for this great club is a big reward.”

Pepe is Arsenal’s fourth recruit of the close season after the club signed Brazilian winger Gabriel Martinelli, midfielder Dani Ceballos on loan from Real Madrid and centre back William Saliba, who has been loaned back to St Etienne for the season.

Arsenal, who finished fifth last season, play a friendly against Barcelona on Sunday before they begin the new league campaign with a trip to Newcastle United on Aug. 11.

Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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