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Arsenal's Unai Emery Gives Nicolas Pepe Update, Wants Another Signing

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 1, 2019

CARSON, CA - JULY 17: 	Unai Emery the head coach / manager of Arsenal during the 2019 International Champions Cup match between Arsenal and FC Bayern Munich at Dignity Health Sports Park on July 17, 2019 in Carson, California. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Arsenal boss Unai Emery said the club has not yet secured the signature of Lille winger Nicolas Pepe and that he's targeting another signing before the transfer window shuts on Thursday. 

BBC Sport's David Ornstein had reported a deal has been agreed between the two clubs for Pepe:

David Ornstein @bbcsport_david

Arsenal have reached an agreement with Lille to sign Ivory Coast winger Nicolas Pepe for ~€80m, 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

Per the Mirror's Jake Polden, Emery said on Pepe: "We have different options. This one at the moment is not closed, but he is one we are following."

He added: "No deal is official now. I will only speak in the next hours or days if it can be official for us."

The manager spoke on Wednesday after the Gunners drew 1-1 with Angers, with whom Pepe spent four years before he moved to Lille in 2017.

Emery said the Ivory Coast international has "progressed as a player" since then.

He has enjoyed a productive two years with Lille, for whom he has contributed 37 goals and 17 assists in 79 appearances, many of which came from the right wing.

As football statistician Dave O'Brien demonstrated, Pepe forged plenty of opportunities for his team-mates:

Statman Dave @StatmanDave

Only Memphis Depay (72) created more chances than Nicolas Pépé (61) in Ligue 1 last season. Reliable creator. 🙌🙌🙌 https://t.co/U6WzeryGNi

In a front three alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, Pepe could be a potent weapon for the Gunners.

Although he would cost far more than Arsenal's reported £40 million budget for the summer, Emery does not want to stop the Gunners' summer recruitment at Pepe:

"We are working on the possibilities to sign players. We signed [Dani] Ceballos, and we have a possibility with Pepe.

"We are looking for the possibility to improve, but only if we can take more steps in the squad.

"Our target is to sign another player if he can really, really improve us. Our target is continuing to sign another player if we can."

The Gunners have also been linked with Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney throughout the summer, per Goal's Sam France.

Mark Mann-Bryans of the Press Association thinks Arsenal would be delighted to add him alongside Pepe and potentially a new centre-back:

Mark Mann-Bryans @MarkyMBryans

Add a centre-back and its near-perfect. Signings of potential, impact and pace & goals, looking to future proof, too. Martinelli and Saliba - different fees and career paths but were sought after 18-year-olds Ceballos may only be a loan but hugely improves midfield options.

The Gunners defence is their biggest problem area. In the past two Premier League seasons, they have conceded a combined 102 goals, more than any other side in the top six.

Arsenal signed centre-back William Saliba from Saint-Etienne earlier this summer, but he will spend the 2019/20 campaign with the French club on loan, so he won't arrive until next year.

Tierney's arrival would improve the back four, though, as he's an upgrade on both Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac at left-back.

If the Gunners can sign Pepe and Tierney, and they can stay fit, the team will have a good chance of securing a top-four finish and UEFA Champions League football.