The day of reckoning has finally arrived.
Arsenal have defied expectations after completing the club record A$127 million signing of winger Nicolas Pépé, but will he live up to his hefty price tag?
The 24-year-old Ivory Coast international put pen to paper yesterday, signing a five-year deal with the Gunners. The former Lille man will wear the No.19.
Pépé will become Arsenal’s fourth new addition this transfer period behind Brazilian winger Gabriel Martinelli, midfielder Dani Cebellos on loan from Real Madrid and defender William Saliba, who curiously has been loaned back to former club St Etienne for the entirety of the 2019/20 season.
According to Arsenal coach Unai Emery, Pépé “will add pace, power and creativity, with the aim of bringing more goals to our team.”
Despite Arsenal’s defensive headaches, Emery has placed all his chips on the Ivorian being the solution to Arsenal’s problems, declaring that “signing a top-class winger has been one of our key objectives in this transfer window and I’m delighted he’s joining.”
Emery is not wrong – signing a world-class winger was certainly high on Arsenal’s wish list. With the likes of Alex Iwobi remaining inconsistent and an aging Henrikh Mkhitaryan falling out of favour, the club needed a player like Pépé to reinforce the team.
His performances at Lille were impressive, providing 11 assists and finishing second in the golden boot race behind Kylian Mbappe, with a total of 22 goals.
However, despite the aroma of excitement surrounding Pépé and what he can bring to Arsenal, I’m still frustrated at the lack of defensive reinforcement.
The purchase of William Saliba and subsequent loan back to his former club remains a puzzling decision considering the club’s obvious need for bolstering in the back half.
As rumours of Celtic fullback Kieran Tierney’s transfer to Arsenal continue to circulate, perhaps the club’s defensive crisis may finally be at an end.
Until then, welcome Nicolas Pépé!