Winger Set For Arsenal Move
Arsenal have agreed a fee of €80 million (£72 million) for the Lille winger Nicolas Pepe.
Reports on Saturday claim the Gunners have agreed to pay the fee for the Ivory Coast international in a series of instalments.
The Gunners have agreed the fee with Lille but have yet to come to an agreement over personal terms. Pepe is believed to be asking for a wage in excess of €8 million a year – the equivalent of over £140,000 a week.
The transfer could be completed in the next 48 hours.
Arsenal are one of a number of clubs to have chased Pepe over the course of this summer. Their interest was first reported by Football Gossip in the early part of last season. Lille’s €80 million valuation was thought to have ended the Gunners’ interest – as it appeared to have done with Bayern Munich.
In the end Arsenal are one of six clubs to have shown a willingness to pay the £72 million fee. Liverpool, Napoli and Inter Milan were all interested. Manchester United and Atletico Madrid insisted they would have to sell before they could buy.
Pepe scored 23 goals for Lille last season and fits Arsenal’s requirements for a pacey winger who can score goals.
The Gunners have also been interested in Pepe’s Ivory Coast international team-mate, Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha. But at 24 Pepe is two years younger than Zaha – a factor in the final reckoning.
Some observers are pointing out that the agreement to pay in instalments suggests Arsenal’s £45 million transfer budget was a fiction. That may well be the case although practically all football transfer fees are paid in instalments, often over the life of the player’s initial contract. The £45 million may have been a cash-flow figure rather than a value of total transfers.