Nicolas Pepe Talks Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette After £72M Arsenal Move

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistAugust 1, 2019

LILLE, FRANCE - MARCH 15: Lille's Nicolas Pepe reacts during the French Ligue 1 match between Lille OSC (LOSC) and AS Monaco (ASM) at Stade Pierre Mauroy on March 15, 2019 in Lille, France. (Photo by Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images)
Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images

Nicolas Pepe has said "it will be an honour" to play with Alexandre Lacazette after securing a £72 million (€80 million, per BBC Sport's David Ornstein) move to the Emirates Stadium from Lille.

Speaking to the Gunners' official website, the 24-year-old also spoke of his excitement at teaming up with Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang:

"When I knew I was coming to Arsenal, I immediately thought of the French guys who play here. I thought of Ozil, the world champions, Lacazette, Aubameyang and many more. Of course, these are the players who sprang to mind because I used to watch them when I was at Lille. Also, Lacazette used to play for Lyon and so I have had the opportunity to play against him. It will be an honour to play alongside him."

Arsenal have spent record transfer fees on Ozil (£42.4 million), Lacazette (£46.5 million) and Aubameyang (£56 million) in the last six years, but Pepe's signing has eclipsed them all.

Given it was reported before the transfer window that Arsenal would have a limited budget, it was a surprise when they became strongly linked to Pepe:

B/R Football @brfootball

Reported Arsenal transfer budget: $55M Reported fee agreed for Nicolas Pepe: $90M https://t.co/19usYSyXyt

Gianni Verschueren @ReverschPass

Ah, payment in installments. Now we're talking. That would make sense for Arsenal

He has all the attributes to become a big star for the Gunners.

Pepe joined Lille from Angers in 2017, and last term he enjoyed a breakout campaign as he netted 22 goals and provided 11 assists in 38 Ligue 1 appearances:

Get French Football News @GFFN

Ligue 1 Top Scorers - 2018/19: 1 | Kylian Mbappé (PSG) - 33 2 | Nicolas Pépé (Lille) - 22 3 | Edinson Cavani (PSG) - 18 4 | Florian Thauvin (OM) - 16 5 | Moussa Dembélé (OL), Neymar (PSG) & Falcao (Monaco) - 15

A right-sided forward, he could form a devastating attacking line with Aubameyang and Lacazette that could rival the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool's forward units.

The Ivory Coast international should help Arsenal improve their goal return in 2019-20. Over the last nine seasons, Arsenal have averaged just under 72 league goals per term.

Last season, the two title challengers, City and Liverpool, netted 95 and 89 goals, respectively.

Realistically, Arsenal need to at least boost their goal return back into the 80s if they are to have any chance of challenging for the title again, and Pepe's addition to the squad should help them achieve that.