Arsenal have just announced the signing of Nicolas Pepe. The Ivory Coast international became the club’s record signing on Thursday, joining the Gunners from Ligue 1 club Lille. The club photographer was on hand to see Nico put pen to paper. Nicolas Pepe will follow in some famous footsteps when he makes his first appearance for us. Our record signing will be the fourth Ivory Coast international to represent Arsenal, emulating Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Eboue and Gervinho. Toure was one of Arsene Wenger’s finest ever signings – a hugely popular figure who arrived as an unknown and became an Invincible – and Pepe has already asked him for advice.
Pepe hit 22 Ligue 1 goals last season as Lille finished second in the table behind Paris Saint-Germain. PSG coach Thomas Tuchel made his admiration for the Ivory Coast forward clear, with Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Manchester United among the other major clubs linked with Pepe. He becomes the Gunners’ third signing of the close season after Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos joined on loan and William Saliba chose Unai Emery’s side over rivals Tottenham. However, defender Saliba is set to stay on loan in Ligue 1 with Saint-Etienne for the 2019-20 season. Born in Mantes-la-Jolie, Île-de-France, Pépé stared his career originally playing as a Goalkeeper for local side Solitaire Paris Est until he was 14 years old.
But he began his professional career playing as an outfield player with Poitiers in the Championnat de France Amateur 2 (fifth tier) in 2012–13. He signed for Angers in 2013, and spent his first season with the reserves in the CFA 2.On 21 June 2017, Pépé signed a five-year deal with Lille, for a maximum transfer fee of €10 million, after being signed by head coach Marcelo Bielsa who had scouted the player by watching footage of every Ligue 1 game he had played in for Angers, before scouting him in person. Upon signing for Arsenal, he was handed the number 19 shirt (which he had also work at Lille), after Bernd Leno took the number 1 shirt, following the retirement of Petr ?ech.