Arsenal have reportedly agreed a club-record €80m deal to sign Lille winger Nicolas Pepe, with the transfer expected to go through in the next 24 – 48 hours.
That’s according to respected BBC Sport journalist and Arsenal man-in-the-know David Ornstein, who claims it is the Gunners who have agreed to sign the Ivory Coast attacker in a transfer poised to set them back £72million.
The 24-year-old attacker has been linked with a host of top European sides all summer, including United, Man City Liverpool and most recently Serie A side Napoli.
The Ivorian netted 23 goals in 41 appearances last season and Pepe admitted earlier this year that he was open to a move away from the Ligue 1 club.
And after reports emerged on Friday that Arsenal had joined the race to sign him, it’s now claimed by Ornstein that a deal has been struck between the two clubs and that Pepe’s transfer to Emirates Stadium will be wrapped up, possibly before the end of the weekend.
“Arsenal have reached an agreement with Lille to sign Ivory Coast winger Nicolas Pepe for €80m,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Paid by instalments to fit #AFC budget. 5yr deal, agent agreement still needed but set to be closed in next 24/48hrs.
“Napoli also have agreement with #LOSC but agent rejected proposal.”
Lille chief Gerard Lopez has also confirmed the player’s exit from the club was nearly done.
“In terms of departures and arrivals, if a player leaves, we will go and get what we need,” he said.
“For Nico, it is almost done and he could have left last summer. It is true that there are big offers and big clubs in for him, so I think [he will leave].
“Aside from that, you never know in football.”
Zaha hopes over for Arsenal
Arsenal’s capture of Pepe will bring the end of their efforts to sign Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace.
The Gunners had seen a number of approaches for Zaha fail and were this week accused of employing underhand tactics in a bid to get the Eagles to sell on the cheap.
Zaha now looks destined for Everton, with reports of the Toffees offering two players in exchange emerging in Saturday’s newspapers.
Arsenal’s capture of Pepe will complete a satisfying week for the Gunners following the captures of William Saliba and Dani Ceballos on Thursday.
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