Ivorian international Nicolas Pepe becomes Africa’s most expensive player @ £72m
London, July 31, 2019 (AltAfrica)-The wait is over. Nicolas Pepe, Ivorian international, looks set to be confirmed as Arsenal player before weekend after passing his medical at the London colony on Tuesday. The Gunners reportedly agreeing a mega-money deal reported to be £72m for the Lille winger.
The 24-year-old took Ligue 1 by storm last season, netting 22 times and providing 11 assists to catch the eye of several top clubs.
Premier League rivals Liverpool, Manchester United and Everton have been interested in him but it appears Arsenal have won the race to land him.
Lille finished second in the French top flight last season, thanks largely to the form of Pepe, and the club have been resigned to the prospect of losing him this summer.
Nicolas Pepe, the new addition to Arsenal’s fir power becomes Africa’s most expensive player at £72 million eclipsing Cedric Bakambu who moved from Villarreal to Beijing Guoan for £65 million
Who is Nicolas Pepe?
The French-born Ivorian started his career in the lower leagues of French football before eventually earning a transfer to Angers in 2013.
His professional debut came in November 2014 – a 1-1 draw against Ajaccio in Ligue 2.
Pepe spent a year in the B team before he was loaned out to fellow French side US Orleans to aid his development.
When he returned to Angers, he became a first-team regular, making 33 Ligue 1 appearances in the 2016/17 campaign.
His performances grabbed the attention of the Ivory Coast’s selectors, who gave him his first international cap in November 2016, and Lille were keeping tabs on him, too.
Pepe signed a five-year deal with Lille in the summer of 2017 for a reported £10m fee.
Since then, he has gone from strength-to-strength, quickly establishing himself as one of the most exciting players in France.
Last season, he bagged a hat-trick in the 3-2 Ligue 1 away win over Amiens SC.
Pepe was then the star of the show as Lille thrashed Paris Saint-Germain 5-1, notching a goal and two assists against the French champions.
Only PSG sensation Kylian Mbappe scored more goals than him in Ligue 1.
He’s a defender’s nightmare, with his pace, close control and directness causing them all sorts of problems.
“He amazes me, he amazes us,” his manager, Christoph Galtier said in February.
“He’s certain to become a world class player because he knows how to do everything. He doesn’t need an intermediate step. After the great season he’s having with us, he can go straight to a Champions League club.”