With the Premier League’s the biggest signing of the summer, Arsenal signed Ivorian winger Nicolas Pépé from Lille for £72 million. In order to bring Pépé to the North London, the Gunners had to smash their transfer record, which was previously held by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who set Arsenal back £56 when he was brought in from Borussia Dortmund.
Pépé had a breakout season with Lille last year, racking up 22 goals and 11 assists as he led the French side back to the Champions League for the first time in 7 years. Pépé’s performances quickly turned him into one of the hottest prospects in Europe and some of the continent’s biggest teams like Bayern Munich, PSG, and Inter Milan were all vying for his signature. Ultimately, he chose Arsenal and explained what that decision meant to him.
“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”.
One man who will be equally as emotional as Pépé is Arsenal manager Unai Emery, the Spaniard has been pleading with the club’s board to sign a winger for months and after being told that his budget would not exceed £50 million this summer, he will be overjoyed that his employers broke the bank to bring in the Ivorian, who will add a new dimension to his team.
“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”.
Slotting in on the right-hand side, Pépé will certainly add more goals to an already lethal attack that boasts the talents of Alexandre Lacazette and Aubameyang. Lacazette will be the focal point, operating as the main striker, while Aubameyang, naturally a striker himself, will have to play on the left-wing, a role in which he has excelled in the past due to his blistering pace. All three players are electric talents who have the ability to change a match at a moment’s notice and with their combined strengths, Arsenal easily have one of the best strike forces in the league.
However, it wasn’t Arsenal’s attack that let them down last season. Their shoddy defense and midfield were far more to blame for the Gunner’s failure to qualify for the Champions League last season. Signing Dani Ceballos on loan from Real Madrid was an astute acquisition as the Spaniard will provide a much-needed touch of class in the middle of the park. Additionally, Arsenal signed highly rated center back William Saliba but loaned him back to Saint Entienne for the coming season meaning their defense will likely stay the same, a major red flag heading into the new season.
Many signings need to be made before Arsenal are able to compete for the Premier League title once again but with Pépé and Ceballos joining an already solid squad, Unai Emery’s men have enough quality to truly fight for a top 4 finish next season, which would help the club back to where it belongs.