Lille attacker Nicolas Pepe has opted to join Arsenal on a five-year contract in a deal that will be worth around £81m, according to reports in Italy.
Pepe played a starring role for Lille last season as he contributed 23 goals and 12 assists to help them finish second in Ligue 1, earning him a reputation as one of the hottest attacking talents in Europe this summer.
The 24-year-old’s sensational form has attracted interest from a number of clubs with L’Equipe, via GFFN, reporting on Friday that Arsenal, Liverpool, Napoli and Inter Milan had all agreed to meet Lille £72m [€80m] asking price.
Jurgen Klopp has publicly played down his interest in Pepe but various reports suggest the Liverpool boss is keen to lure him to Anfield as he looks to bring in support for the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane next season.
Napoli have also been touted as one of the front-runners with Pepe’s agents spotted in Naples late last week but it looks like it’s Arsenal who’ve won the race to sign the talented Ivory Coast international.
beIN Sports journalist Tancredi Palmeri reported this morning that Arsenal have offered a deal worth a total of £81m – which includes £72m to Lille and £9m in commission to the agents – and have offered Pepe a lucrative 5-year contract.
This information was supported by Fabrizio Romano – who works for the likes of Sky Sports and the Guardian – as he also claims Arsenal are in advanced negotiations to sign Pepe with Napoli unable to agree personal terms with the player.
CalcioMercato have now provided an update and they claim Pepe has accepted Arsenal’s contract and is now set for a move to North London after snubbing Napoli in favour of a move to the Premier League.
The Italian publication suggests Arsenal’s commission payments to the agent have played a key role in getting a deal agreed while they say Pepe will earn around £5.4m-per-season net at the Emirates Stadium.
Unai Emery has been desperately trying to add a versatile winger to his squad this summer and it looks like the Arsenal boss has turned his attention to Pepe after failing to agree terms for Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha.
Let’s see how things develop over the coming days but the Italian media certainly believe that Pepe is on the verge of joining Arsenal in what would be a club record deal. Football Talk