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Lille president ‘confirms’ Pepe to Arsenal for €80m

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The Ligue 1 side’s president has said that the Ivorian winger is on the brink of joining the Gunners for a club-record fee.

Arsenal are set to sign Lille forward Nicolas Pepe for €80 million (£72.9m/$88.7m), according to Lille president Gerard Lopez.

Pepe hit 22 Ligue 1 goals and registered 11 assists last season as Lille finished second in the table behind Paris Saint-Germain.

PSG coach Thomas Tuchel made his admiration for the Ivory Coast forward clear, with Liverpool, Inter, Bayern Munich and Manchester United among the other major clubs linked with the winger.

Carlo Ancelotti also confirmed the player was a target for Napoli, but the 24-year-old is instead set to become Arsenal’s record signing.

“I think it should be done in the next 24 hours,” Lopez told RMC Sport.

“It is €80m fixed, plus some other details.

“In talking with Nico and his agents, things focused on the certain clubs that we wanted to focus on, the two projects that interested the player.”

Pepe will join an impressive forward line at Arsenal, who also boast Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and former Lyon star Alexandre Lacazette.

He will become the Gunners’ fourth signing of the close season after teenage forward Gabriel Martinelli arrived from Ituano, Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos joined on loan and St Etienne defender William Saliba chose Unai Emery’s side over rivals Tottenham.

However, 18-year-old centre-back Saliba is set to stay on loan in Ligue 1 with Saint-Etienne for the 2019-20 season.

The Gunners have a couple more deals in the pipeline, too, with steady progress being made as they look to close out a deal for Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney, 22, as well as adding a central defender to shore up their leaky backline.

Any deal for a centre-back will depend on the likely exits of Laurent Koscielny – who dramatically refused to join Arsenal’s pre-season tour of the United States – and Shkodran Mustafi, whose errors look to have cost him his place at the club.

Arsenal were linked with a clutch of other wide players before settling on Pepe, chiefly Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha, but the likes of Ryan Fraser, Yannick Carrasco, Malcom and Ivan Perisic were all mooted.

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