Nicolas Pepe has become Arsenal’s record signing after joining from Lille for £72million on a five-year contract.
Arsenal will pay an initial £20m with the remaining £52m spread over the next five years due to their transfer constraints.
The 24-year-old had emerged as the Gunners’ primary target after hitting 23 goals in 41 games for the Ligue 1 side last season – his 22 league goals leaving him behind only Kylian Mbappe in the scoring charts.
The forward, who will wear the No 19 shirt, said: ‘Being here is very emotional because it has not been easy for me. I have come a long way and struggled a lot and so signing for this great club is a big reward. It was important to make the right decision and I am convinced that Arsenal is the right choice.’
Arsenal boss Unai Emery added: ‘Nicolas is a highly-rated and talented winger who was wanted by many of the top teams in Europe. ‘Signing a top-class winger has been one of our key objectives in this transfer window and I’m delighted he’s joining.
He will add pace, power, and creativity, with the aim of bringing more goals to our team.’ The big-money move smashes the club’s record, set when they bought Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund for £56m in January 2018.
Arsenal were originally concerned they might not be able to land Pepe amid the fierce competition for his signature this summer and their inability to offer the lure of Champions League football to prospective signings.
But once they received sufficient encouragement that Pepe wanted to move to the Emirates and Lille were open to a structured deal that worked with Arsenal’s financial situation they put the wheels in motion to bring him to the Emirates.
Emery will now focus on trying to strengthen his defence with what is left of his budget.
Arsenal are closing in on a £25m deal for Celtic’s Kieran Tierney, having restructured their offer after seeing two bids rejected and also want a senior center-back.
Their backline will also be further reinforced by the returns from injury of Rob Holding and Hector Bellerin who have both been sidelined with serious knee injuries.