Arsenal Sign Nicolas Pepe from Lille on Reported 5-Year Contract

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 1, 2019

Lille's Ivorian forward Nicolas Pepe celebrates  after scoring a goal during the French L1 football match between Lille (LOSC) and Angers (SCO) at the Pierre-Mauroy Stadium in Villeneuve d'Ascq, near Lille, northern France, on May 18 2019. (Photo by DENIS CHARLET / AFP)        (Photo credit should read DENIS CHARLET/AFP/Getty Images)

Arsenal signed Lille winger Nicolas Pepe to a reported five-year contract on Thursday.

The Gunners announced his capture via social media:

Arsenal @Arsenal

Welcome to The Arsenal, Nicolas Pepe 🤩 🇨🇮 #PepeIsHere ⚡️ https://t.co/nXJIB9XdLW

Pepe spent two years with Lille, having joined from Angers in 2017.

According to BBC Sport's David Ornstein, Pepe has joined on a five-year deal for a club-record €80 million (£72.9 million) fee, surpassing the £55 million spent on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang last year.

"Nicolas is a highly rated and talented winger who was wanted by many of the top teams in Europe," Arsenal head coach Unai Emery said in the club's press release"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 24-year-old was hot property after a sensational campaign with Lille earned him a spot in Ligue 1's Team of the Year.

Football statistician Dave O'Brien shared the winger's impressive numbers:

Statman Dave @StatmanDave

Nicolas Pépé in the Ligue 1 2018/19: 🏃‍♂️ 2.7 dribbles completed per game 🧠 70 chances created ⚽️ 22 goals (2nd most in the league) 🅰️ 11 assists (most in the league) Time for a big move... 👀 https://t.co/LLER3Wv71U

According to Opta, Barcelona's Lionel Messi was the only other player to score more than 20 goals and provide more than 10 assists in Europe's top five leagues last season.

Pepe also scored and assisted once apiece in two Coupe de France appearances.

Here's a look at some of his highlights:

Goal @goal

THIS is why Arsenal are spending €80m on Nicolas Pepe 😎 Time to get excited, Gunners. https://t.co/38aQD482aM

The winger has electric pace and superb dribbling technique, and he's clinical and creative in the final third, as his numbers demonstrate.

"He amazes me, he amazes us," Lille manager Christophe Galtier said in February, per Sean O'Brien of TalkSport. "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."

Since Theo Walcott moved to Everton last year, the Gunners have lacked options on the right flank outside of the versatile Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi.

Pepe resolves that problem, though, and alongside Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, he can give Arsenal a potent three-pronged attack.

The Gunners have shipped 51 goals in each of the past two Premier League seasons, so unless they can improve significantly in defence, they will need the trio's goals to compensate for their deficiencies at the back.