Report: Arsenal investigating* Pepe deal

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According to ESPN, Arsenal have held an “internal investigation” into the process that saw the club recruit Nicolas Pepe from Lille for a club record £72 million.

James Olley writes that the scope of the financial commitment, which included £20 million upfront and five further instalments, “has led to a review of the scouting reports and negotiating process.”

While the article makes clear that the Gunners are happy having Pepe on the books, they are looking to tighten up the way money is spent in the transfer market going forward. Olley writes that “Edu is determined to make every penny count.”

News of an investigation comes just days after the club announced 55 redundancies and culling of large swathes of the scouting team.

A statement from the club made clear that job losses were a direct result of financial uncertainty brought about by Covid-19. Since then, various reports have presented the decision to part ways with scouts as the culmination of a long-term review into recruitment and a move towards more data-driven analysis and agents.

If those savings total an estimated £3 million, perhaps it’s unsurprising you might look back at the reasons for committing £72 million towards a player 12 months ago in a roll of the dice to secure Champions League football.

We’re sure we won’t get answers to any of these, but we figured we’d list the questions that are buzzing around in our heads.

  • Who is driving this investigation?
  • Is it coming from as high up as the owners?
  • Is new non-executive director Tim Lewis playing a part?
  • What exactly is being investigated?
  • Who exactly is under the microscope?
  • What did the scouting reports say that means their role is being scrutinised?
  • Is the football executive committee asking questions of itself?
  • If the price is being questioned, when did we start having concerns about that?
  • Why did we structure the deal the way we did?
  • How did ‘super agent’ Jorge Mendes come to be involved on Arsenal’s behalf?
  • Was Mendes working for free? If not, how much did he get paid?
  • How did Raul Sanllehi’s Barcelona-connection with Lille deputy CEO Marc Ingla factor into negotiations?
  • Edu had only been in his job as Technical Director for three weeks, what role did he play?

Lots of questions.

As a bit of background, this piece by Get France Football News highlights how determined Pepe’s troika of agents were to drive interest in their client and to achieve a high sale price.

At times, the plot is harder to follow than something from Kafka’s back catalogue, but it’s interesting nonetheless.


*Since we published this article on 14 August, Raul Sanllehi has left Arsenal. The club subsequently released a statement to the media in which they stressed that no “investigation” into the Pepe transfer had taken place.

It reads: “We want to be clear to you all that there has been no investigation by the club into the Nicolas Pepe transfer. To suggest there has been an investigation is grossly inaccurate and unfair and we request you remove it from your coverage. We have informed our lawyers and will take further action as necessary.”

ESPN has subsequently reworded the article which is cited above. It is now titled “Arsenal review £72m Pepe transfer” and the word “investigate” has been removed throughout to be replaced with “re-examine” and “review”.

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Johnny 4 Hats

Stan farts in a room and leaves.

He walks back in and demands to know why the room stinks.

Reality check

nicely put

Aaron

Lol
But why the fuck are we investigating our own transfers.
If this is usual, then I assume every freaking club would be doing it. What’s the news here?

Cultured Determination

Cos stan wants to investigate the executives for shady transfers so that he can implement a transfer ban on us.

kaius

A new line has been added to the article that wasn’t there this morning (it should be added to this blog post too):

Arsenal denied a formal investigation has taken place when asked for comment by ESPN.”

So the article is correct to say Arsenal are reviewing and streamlining operations. Edu stated so last week when talking about the agents.

But as to a “formal investigation into the Pepe deal”? No, that makes no logical sense.

EssGeeEm

I suspect they are investigating internally in order to be seen to be on the right side of the law should it be discovered that a criminal act might have been committed intentionally or unintentionally during the contract negotiations. Football operates on the fringes of financial regulations on occasions – surprise surprise! (I’m not a lawyer but have worked extensively in the world of financial law for documentaries over many years.)

VAR will solve the problem

Raul said he was responsible for all the transfers in the summer of 2019 and not Edu. So is Edu investigating Raul? Because no one else is left to be investigated in the club…they fired Steve Mislintat, Fracisco Cagigao and head of scouting in France and even the tea lady!
Sounds like a crock of bullshit to me!…”Edu is determined to make every penny count” sounds like another fake news to distract every one from the 55 redundancies at the club.

Vonnie

Because there’s something very dodgy with Raul and Jorge Mendes, it’s important to ensure that everyone involved with this transfer was actually working for the good of Arsenal. It’s about time the executives were held to account for their actions and I believe the investigation is a very good thing.

Martin

Because it appears a certain man named Raul has been taking backhanders

Teryima Adi

?????

Scwibble

Remember that we’re a Europa League team for three coming to four seasons now and we continue to charge the highest ticket prices in Europe. I’ll just leave that there…

Okester

Not charging them this season though are we… 😉

TexasGooner6

What if the Club had started a real rebuild 3 years ago? How far along would we be right now in terms of becoming an elite team?

Qwaliteee

Heh. Another ‘cock-up’ to add to our collection.

This board gets more pathetic by the day.

Cmdn

According to ESPN” I love how you all jurnos, bloggers are on this. ESP is absolute garbage, even bigger than most garbages and yet here it is on full display. Also dont forget that Arsenal are the only club that pay in installments.

jim2w

Based on you inside knowledge of every other club in the league and how they do their transfers. You must be minted.

Martin

Every club in the country pay their transfers in instalments. Stop talking nonsense about something you are totally ignorant about

SLPYHS

I’m of two minds: ESPN are trash, but many clubs pay in installments. It’s only news when Arsenal does it because it fees the furor.

ArsenesLongSufferingZipper

Feel your pain, Cmdn. Your sarcasm about us being ” the only club that pays in installments” is obviously not registering.

kaius

Yep, flew right over some heads there

Theoptimist

It was shit sarcasm though. Poorly executed.

Dave

@DarrenArsenal1 just posted on twitter that press have been briefed to remove this story now as it is untrue.

Reality check

Another Ozil saga coming up? Make a financial commitment and then cry about it infront of the whole world, nice way to make Pepe feel wanted though. You got 55 people redundant even after giving players your word, no need to make lame excuses now. A players’ revolt is being reported in the press, great prep for next season..

OzilOout

When did they say who was going to save their jobs by taking pay cuts? what if the scouting system was always going to be cut? they’ve done a shit job for YEARS,

Theoptimist

Well all we know is what is reported, which is that senior players sought reassurances from the club that their pay cuts would secure the jobs of their staff members.
I would imagine this wouldn’t have just included their immediate coaches and physios, and we also don’t know that the redundancies have excluded these guys either.

Martinelli's belly

Won’t be surprised if they do it to Auba in a year or 2 either. Most fans were just as positive about Ozil when he signed as they are about Auba now.

gunnertron

WTF is going on at our club!

Vonnie'

Raul Sanhelli.

Jeremy DG

I’d say nothing more than every day business at a football club. Just because journalists uncover situations and sensationalise them on social media for the content starved masses doesn’t mean that everything which happens is a crisis.

Qwaliteee

What do you make of us finishing 8th? Gonna wacky some spin on that, too?

Qwaliteee

Stan. Kroenke.

Twatsloch

“Edu is determined to make every penny count.”

Sure he is!

Jeremy DG

There was a typo in this. It meant to say ‘Kia is determined to count every penny’ 🙂

Twatsloch

How boss, Kia, would expect nothing less if he’s to continue selling us his players.

Twatsloch

That’s meant to say “His (Edu’s) boss, Kia, would expect nothing less if he’s to continue selling us his players.”

A typo for a typo.

Futsboller

If this is a real investigation of how we’ve been doing business recently, then that’s a positive; but it smells like a delicious bit of PR spin. For a club that used to keep its cards duct-taped to the chest, we seem to be getting all kinds of inside information from sources who really shouldn’t know the things they do (or that they say they do).

Let’s just hope everything happening is for the betterment of the club.

Theoptimist

I don’t know what they intend to gain by making this public, the logical conclusions that the public will make are:
A) Pepe cost far too much.
B) This was a dodgy deal in some way.
Neither make AFC or Pepe look good.

Gunnerlocutor

Stan: “Excuse me, we paid WHAT for one soccer player?! I’m gonna tear someone a new #%*hole.”

JBF

I think the key question here is why the heck was Jorge Mendes involved in any capacity in the deal.

Sac, Lac & Crack

Agents will agent

Hantal

They had no issue with the deal last summer, in fact they were crowing about how the structuring was indicative of how they planned to ‘outsmart’ the market.
Is it because he didn’t score fifty goals?

Chimaera

What’s interesting is that they intended the Arsenal move as a springboard for Pepe to move to “a top 8 European team”. That’s a great idea but I don’t think he’s put in the performances to warrant that consideration so far, he still has a lot to prove in North London before he should be thinking of anything else.

Martin

On recent form he has nothing to prove. He will be a sensation next season

Theoptimist

Really? I’m not anti-Pepe in any way, but I watched the last few games and I didn’t think he was sensational. And yes, for £72m I did expect a bit more, a bit sooner. For £72m I was expecting a player who could win games regularly, or at least make a huge difference whenever he played. I know it’s not Pepe’s fault btw.

EZD

Is this some sort of joke, that this investigation into wasting money on Pepe is being started at exactly the same time as we sign William (a 32 year old Kia client) on reportedly £220k a week for 3 years?

Anyhows, must be embarrassing for Pepe this. Not his fault at all of course, but this seems to imply that the club thinks our scouts overrated him, which can’t be nice to hear. Let’s hope this doesn’t affect his performance.

Sac, Lac & Crack

Reportedly? By who? A Daily Mail journalist who cooked the figures to reach that conclusion. I love Arseblog but I’m very disappointed they peddled that crap.

EZD

How did they cook the figures? If they included the sign-on fee, that’s fair enough – there’s no difference in practice between the wage and sign on fee. Given we won’t get any money for selling him, we’ve got to pay both as the cost of his 3 year contract. If they included performance bonuses, that’s another matter, as they may not all get paid. But if the contract really is £220k (or £250k as Arseblog says) including perperfomance bonuses, then the amount without those bonuses must still be pretty darn high. Certainly nothing like the the £100k reported. We… Read more »

mongmong

Sign on fee is a fact of life with football. Whether you signed in a transfer, as a free agent, or if you extended your contract like Auba is doing, all of it involves paying a signing on bonus as well as agent commissions. So we shouldn’t single out Willian here.

Berlingoon

It wasn’t written by Blogs but by Andew Allen, he’s Arseblog’s very own yellow press.

normski-gunner

What? we are signing Will.i.am as well as Willian. Let’s hope we get a tune out of both 😉

Tom80

Surely this has to be a PR leak to make the timing of the redundancies/Willian signing look more palatable.

If its genuine then unless it’s carried out by the new guy its a waste of time. Let’s say Edu runs it and decides we overpaid. Do you blame (a) the negotiations team run by your boss who appointed you and is bessies with your agent or (b) the scouting team who have been sacked. Tough call…

Tom80

This aged well

Ahby

I have always suspected some under-dealings in most of the Arsenal signings. Something shady may be going on. The wages the likes of Ozil, Mustafi, Xhaka, Kolasinac, Bellerin earns doesn’t just make sense for their quality. These players may be getting these outrageous earnings because they agreed to play game with this Arsenal officials during the transfer fee negotiations. I totally support the investigation. Pepe though a quality player was overvalued for that amount.

Terryp.

Well over priced

Bai Blagoi

What investigation? A year ago everybody was convinced that “Don Raul” pulled the deal of the century with his magic phonebook.

Maul Person

Not at £72 million!

Light

How much again does Maguire cost from Leicester to Utd? How much did it cost Chelsea to sign a keeper not as good as Martinez? What about Ndombele? Pepe’s deal was no big deal, an instalment for five years with an FA cup in the bag.Has Dembele in Barca who cost more than that delivered anything more significant than pepe for Barca? I think there is more to it, remember Mr. Good ebening wanted Zaha but they got him Pepe, someone obviously made a gain from that, anyways if you want the best from Pepe next season, can we drop… Read more »

Public Elneny

Why on earth would you compare against a selection of the worst deals of recent seasons? Yeah every signing we’ve ever made looks great compared to Carroll to Liverpool for £35m – good job, don’t change a thing! Like the £72 million we spent (or will spend) isn’t totally wasted – Pepe’s a talented player, with more to come. But it’s still a crazy amount for someone who clearly wasn’t a natural fit for this league in terms of physicality and maybe mentality, therefore needing a long adaption period with a high risk of failure. Two players of Pepe’s quality… Read more »

Gabie

@ Light well said mate this media and fans like to write nonsense – players are expensive special when that player has been doing well – stuff all and look forward for Pepe best season as he wasn’t bad compare to Unai Zaha

Alex

Are they searching for money for the next deal : saving private Coutinho?

lorenzo

Good questions, blogs.
Pepe is undoubtedly a top player, and in a more cohesive team I think he’ll shine. That said, given our transfer history and more obvious areas that needed upgrades at the time, it was a strange transaction. This public investigation might be even stranger, though.

Justus Paladin

I bet the number 1 remit of this “investigation” is to find out if there are any legal loopholes to lessen future installment payments due to COVID

Charles MMM

Haha.. that will be a smart move anyways.

Pooner

What a well run club we are. Even those making the decisions don’t know why we’re making them. It’s almost as if having an operationally disinterested absentee owner creates a huge power and responsibility vacuum.

Toure Motors

2nd last question is key for me- some very interesting stories in the background there…

Gnarls

Lol, the fox guarding the henhouse.

Antony Bruce

Looks like heads are about to ‘Raul’

Naked Cygan

I am sure Pepe is confused too. He has no idea why they paid so much for him. Imagine if we paid 30million for Pepe. He would not have that ridiculous club record fee on his shoulder and play with less pressure.

Santori

That is not his fault of course or his agents, of course they will take the highest sum…we only have ourselves to blame for being naive in market. It boils down to the fact Mslintat was a glorified scout dependent on his old contacts, Sanlehi came in to try and be clever but he isn’t experience either since he was in reality at Barca “Director of Footballing relations” whatever that meant. He was NOT Director of Football… So we have a mess. As mentioned last summer, we should have shown better ambition and signed on either of Luis Campos at… Read more »

Jerry

We should stop trying to buy instant success & rather groom a team that will bring us back to the top. We’re too desperate. Sharks smell blood in the water. Our recruitment is a mess and needs change. We are losing a lot of academy prospects because we’re blocking there development with 30 something players on 3 year contracts. There is no quick fix to our problems

Santori

We need some instant players bc the longer we are out of CL the more we will fall…

There is no time these days to groom on Academy alone.

We have plenty as is Nketiah, Willock, Nelson, Saka…not to mention younger hopefuls like Nketiah and Guendouzi…

We have been poor managing on that front as well.

Several seasons past we stalled on both Gnabry AND Ox and ended up losing BOTH…. we should have put the gun to the Ox’s head got him to sign or promote Gnabry instead.

We are poorly run.

Northerngooner

Probably to….

-Distract
-Scapegoat
-Use as justification for further sackings
-All of the above

as an aside…”Was Mendes working for free” HAHAHAHA good one blogs!

Magic City Gooner

This is the kind of internal audit you do a) before the deal, and b) ya know, internally and privately so the directors don’t come off looking like nobs

Completely absurd (presuming this is even real)

Santori

Or could be a PR stunt…

GoonerTex

Nearly every story linking us to Pepe last summer suggested that multiple teams had £72 million bids accepted and the player chose to come to Arsenal. Here’s a handy quote from from none other than ESPN: “Arsenal are the frontrunners in the race to sign Lille winger Nicolas Pepe after becoming the fifth club to agree a fee of €80 million to be paid over five years with the Ligue 1 side, according to ESPN FC sources. Sources have told ESPN FC that, as well as Arsenal, Napoli, Inter Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid have an agreement on the fee with… Read more »

Santori

Journalism always taken with a HUGE pinch of salt unless its from Ornstein… Trouble is every Arsenal fan tend to believe anything printed. Most of those teams backed away when they realise how over priced he was. Not us. Same as us signing Luiz seemingly on a great deal for free last summer…again many fans preferred to believe we were getting a great deal…much like with Mhkitaryan peddled to us by Raiolla bc Mslintat left United as the only option for Alexis. Currently, we are keen on extending on Auba at 250K which is not a good deal and adding… Read more »

Dan atry

Pepe is young and upcoming star but he is not worth 72million dollars…there must be a third party in the deal from inside the club…we need a real report

Santori

Its not just the 72m but it is also the fact that we are now committed for 5 summers on him AND Saliba another unproven quantity. Too many people like to believe things before they see actual evidence and even so. They believed Holding was better than Mustafi….They believed Torreira better than Xhaka… They believe Saliba is the dog’s bollocks before he’s kicked a ball. As I mentioned last summer, jury still out bc he played 19 games only last season before we made the decision to sign based on hype. We would have been far better as I mentioned… Read more »

Byo

Finally, Arsenal is being run like any big organization, not dependent on one official running the club, with proper oversight. Great to know there are now internal audits over how/what sanllehi, Edu and Venka are doing in their jobs.

Santori

We don’t know, it could easily come to nothing be inconclusive a white wash for the fans to see they appear to care….

Theoptimist

I’m all for giving players plenty of time and all that…. but it’s getting to crunch time and fans are now expecting some return on that huge expense. Pepe is looking like a VERY expensive Walcott.

Santori

I agree… he has flashes of brilliance, a great left foot but he hardly holds the ball for us enough, most of his take ons are failures (Do not believe the Stat merchants not sure what they constitute as successful…) and his off ball output is as good as Ozil’s (bar a cup final) Half the time he holds the ball too long or does not know where he is. he will really need to step it up. meanwhile we dug a hole for ourselves (and continue to do so with Willian if we haven’t learnt form experiences with Luiz… Read more »

Santori

Good because this was such an iffy decision. On the one hand, creative by Sanlehi to go for installments but very risky given one season wonder with Pepe for that amount of commitment. AND as mentioned last summer, it will weigh on subsequent windows with 16m committed… Not to mention additional 27m on Saliba also in installments equaling 20m a season already spoken for in transfer kitty. And with Saliba, he is relatively unproven having played 19 odd games previous season and not that many this season either due to injury. So yes looks like potential but jury still out… Read more »

Theoptimist

The fact that we are investigating our most expensive signing doesn’t fill me with confidence for the transfer window. Surely every transfer is going to take longer and it is more likely we will miss out?

Santori

I don’t think we can fault Edu on these deals…he came in bearing one gift which was Martinelli and a good one. Where we can fault the higher up is bringing in an experience person like Edu to effectively be under Raul’s thumb. As mentioned many times, if we really wanted to show some ambition we needed to bring in a proper footballing person WITH experience already in the trenches like Luis Campos at Lille or Overmars at Ajax. Particularly it would have helped Emery who was IMO at fault for being too polite and not pushing Raul harder…he hardly… Read more »

Martinelli's belly

Martinelli was Francis Caggigao who we just sacked.

Okesano

In 10 years time with this current leadership puppets at Arsenal with agent Joo being the puppet master. ARSENAL WILL BE EXACT REPLICA OF WHAT LEEDS UNITED BECAME 20yrs gone now.

Santori

Willian pay doesn’t seem too heavy which is a good thing at 150K…even so hopefully we ar not becoming a destination for Brazilians at Chelsea to retire to… How things have changed. Some people critical of Arsene insisting Top 4 a priority over cups. Now we win a cup but fail again for top 4 and we think we are the dog’s bollocks. Fact is without CL, we will less likely retain Auba or sign Partey or higher calibre players… Added to poor decisions commiting money on Pepe and Saliba for 5 seasons and we end up having to make… Read more »

Santori

Oops sorry salary for Willlian 220K a week which is silly you ask me for 3 seasons.

Crazy.

Riku

Raul obv. Done something wrong so investigation into himself which he can over see, and sweep away before Stan does or Edu.

Berlingoon

I think Kia has demanded this investigation as he want answers why we spent that much money on a player who isn’t under contract with him. Could have bought about 15 Cedric’s for that, that would have got him millions in fees.

normski-gunner

Scouting can have nothing to do with a financial investigation. If the scouts got it wrong, which is not being said, then that’s just poor selection. ‘If’ there are some financial issues then that’s down to the guys who do the deal.

Biggles

Possibly. You would expect established scouts working for any major club to be very knowledgeable and to produce accurate reports. Equally, the people negotiating any subsequent deal, based on those reports, should have the best interests of that club at heart. If this were not the case for either/both (and they are linked), for whatever reason, you have to ask why.

Kevin Browne

Did someone take a bung?

Thierry Ennui

Were the club Interested in making changes at the football executive level then evidence of a bit of dodgy dealing would be a pathway to a much cheaper exit than paying whatever is in anyone’s contract for termination.

Ozenal

A boss who never shows his face at the shop will always have issues with staff taking liberties….

goonero

Surprised the suits haven’t come to take down this “grossly innacurate and unfair” article yet.

Dave

@DarrenArsenal1 just posted on twitter that press have been briefed to remove this story now as it is untrue.

Uchenna Emmanuel

Investigate shit,common!
Yeah,COVID crises left the world in a mess…yet it hasn’t made lesser clubs turn their dreams to becoming malls,why arsenal?
Enough said,Raul is already gone…just same way msilinat left…what is wrong with the Kronkes? Arsenal is our Life,and sldnt be toyer with…let’s get back to the days of David Dein,for all i care!