According to the BBC’s David Ornstein, Arsenal have reached an agreement with Lille for Ivory Coast international Nicolas Pepe.
The deal is said to be worth €80 million and will be paid in instalments over the next five years.
Negotiations with his representatives, who have also been courted by Napoli, appear to be ongoing, but things are progressing quickly and the player could sign in the coming days.
We’ll hold our hands up and admit we were suspicious of this story when it first raised its head two weeks ago.
Arsenal have reached an agreement with Lille to sign Ivory Coast winger Nicolas Pepe for ~€80m, paid by instalments to fit #AFC budget. 5yr deal, agent agreement still needed but set to be closed in next 24/48hrs. Napoli also have agreement with #LOSC but agent rejected proposal
— David Ornstein (@bbcsport_david) July 27, 2019
The 24-year-old ended last season with impressive numbers in Ligue 1, scoring 22 goals (second only to Kylian Mbappe) and making 11 assists in 38 appearances.
His performances helped Lille to finish second in the table and caught the attention of some of Europe’s biggest clubs, including champions Paris Saint Germain.
Arsenal have spent the summer courting numerous wingers, including Pepe’s compatriot Wilfried Zaha. A bid of £40 million was rejected out of hand by Crystal Palace who wanted double that amount with a big chunk upfront.
It’s interesting that we’ve found a way to structure a club-record fee for Pepe that’s also to Lille’s liking. There doesn’t look to be any suggestion that we’ll be chucking a player in as a makeweight.
Let’s see what happens in the next 48 hours.