Arsenal have dissipated fears that it was going to be quiet summer by making Nicolas Pépé the most lavish purchase in their history.
While Tottenham Hotspur spent the big bucks for Tanguy Ndombele from Olympique Lyonnais, the Gunners remained relatively dormant. Deals for Gabriel Martinelli and William Saliba, the latter not due to arrive for another season, may well prove profitable but aren’t the marquee signings to garner immediate excitement and enthusiasm ahead of the upcoming season.
In breaking the bank in a £72m deal for Pépé from Lille, Arsenal have now shattered their club record transfer fee. He also becomes the fourth most expensive player in Premier League history.
The winger drew attention last season in an exceptional campaign that saw Lille finish runners-up to Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1, with only Kylian Mbappé ahead of Pépé in the goalscoring stakes.
Pépé was not only les Dogues’ top goalscorer but also their king assist-maker and one of the few players in Europe’s top leagues to reach double figures for both tallies.
This feat puts him alongside only Eden Hazard, Raheem Sterling, Angel Di Maria, Jadon Sancho, Thorgan Hazard, Memphis Depay, Dries Mertens, Pablo Sarabia, and Lionel Messi for the last campaign.
Arsenal have had, of course, great success and notoriety with players from France arguably becoming the hallmark of the Arsène Wenger era at the club; Emmanuel Petit, Robert Pires, the legendary Patrick Vieira, current club captain Laurent Koscielny and - of course - Thierry Henry, the club’s all-time record goalscorer.
On paper at least Pépé will help produce an exciting attacking triumvirate alongside the two men whose own price tags were once the loftiest at Arsenal, and have now been put in the shade; Alexandre Lacazette (£52m) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£60m), arrived within six months of each other between summer 2017 and January 2018.
That’s now £184m worth of attacking firepower manager Unai Emery has at his disposal.
Arsenal have now spent £380m since they were last in a top-four position and competing in the Champions League. The three other players who previously rounded out Arsenal’s top-five record signings still remain at the club as of July 30 2019; Mesut Özil ( £38.2m from Real Madrid, September 2013), Shkodran Mustafi (£35m from Valencia, August 2016) and Granit Xhaka (£33.8m from Borussia Mönchengladbach, May 2016).
Arsenal start their 2019/20 season away at Newcastle United on August 11.