The Gunners are in advanced talks to sign the 24-year-old winger this summer and the coach hopes he can improve the squad ahead of the new season
Arsenal coach Unai Emery has hailed Nicolas Pepe as a “very good player” as his side close in on signing the winger.
Sources have confirmed to Goal that Gunners are close to an €80 million (£72m/$89m) agreement with Lille as talks progressed rapidly over the weekend.
Pepe had been linked to Liverpool, Manchester United, Napoli and Paris Saint-Germain after tallying 23 goals and 12 assists in all competitions last term, but it is the north London side who have jumped ahead of the queue with an offer to pay Lille’s asking price in installments.
Emery was full of praise for the 24-year-old, saying Arsenal will keep looking to strengthen the squad before the new season begins on August 11.
“The club is thinking about how we can improve. There are different players on the table,” Emery said after his side’s 2-1 defeat to Lyon in a friendly on Sunday.
“Pepe’s a very good player. We only want players who can really, really improve the squad. We want the best players possible for the first game at Newcastle.”
Meanwhile, Lyon boss and former Arsenal star Sylvinho backed Pepe to succeed at the Emirates Stadium when he was asked how he thinks the attacker will fare in England.
“Pepe is a top player and could add a lot to Arsenal,” he said.
Arsenal are not the only side to have made a bid for Pepe this summer, as the club’s president, Gerard Lopez, admitted on Friday that four clubs have made acceptable bids, naming Napoli as one.
“We received offers that satisfy us economically from four big clubs.
“[Napoli chairman Aurelio] De Laurentiis has satisfied our request for €80m. Now it is up to the player to decide where he wants to go.
“He must make that decision based on the offers that his agents have received from the four clubs.
“On Monday, Pepe will return from vacation and I believe that by the middle of the week he will have made a decision.”
Pepe, whose contract with Lille runs until 2022, has scored 37 times in 79 appearances for the club since joining from Angers in 2017.
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