Lille president expects Arsenal to sign €80m Pepe in ‘next 24 hours’

Joe Williams

Lille president Gerard Lopez expect Arsenal to complete the club-record 80million euro (£73m) signing of winger Nicolas Pepe in the next 24 hours.

Ivory Coast International Pepe scored 22 goals in Ligue 1 last year and had been previously linked with the likes of Manchester United and Napoli.

The 24-year-old, though, is now on the verge of completing a move to the Emirates Stadium.

Any deal is expected to include Arsenal paying in instalments, while the overall fee will eclipse Arsenal’s previous record – £55million for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January 2018.

Speaking to French media outlet RMC Sport on Wednesday, Lille president Lopez said: “He is the one who made the decision, I think it should be (confirmed) in the next 24 hours.

“It is 80m euro fixed. If we pushed this deal out a little bit longer, we could have had five or six offers of the same nature.

“In talking with Nicolas and his agents, the discussion centred on a few clubs so we preferred to focus on the projects that interested the player.”

Europa League finalists Arsenal have made three signings so far this summer.

Striker Gabriel Martinelli, 18, joined earlier in the window before a season-long loan deal for Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos was announced last week.

The signing of William Saliba from St Etienne was confirmed just hours after Ceballos, but the 18-year-old France youth international will spend the next season back on loan at the Ligue 1 outfit.

A move for Celtic full-back Kieran Tierney is, meanwhile, still in play despite the Scottish champions knocking back two offers from Arsenal, while centre-half Shkodran Mustafi has been linked with a move away.

The future of defender Laurent Koscielny also remains uncertain. The Frenchman is still determined to leave Arsenal this summer despite ongoing talks between club and player, PA understands.

The 33-year-old captain refused to travel on a pre-season tour to the United States after his request to have his contract terminated to allow him to join another club was rejected by the Gunners.

Arsenal insisted disciplinary proceedings would be opened against Koscielny, who has been training away from the first team and has not featured for Unai Emery’s side throughout pre-season.

Having moved to Arsenal from Lorient in 2010 it is understood Koscielny is now keen to return to play in France.

He missed seven months of football in 2018 following a ruptured Achilles injury suffered in the Europa League semi-final defeat to Atletico Madrid, which also ruled him out of France’s World Cup winning campaign.

He then captained Emery’s side as they lost to Chelsea in the final of the same competition last year.

That looks set to be his 353rd and final game for Arsenal as, with discussions continuing in an attempt to find a suitable resolution for both club and player, it is believed Koscielny is moving closer towards the Emirates Stadium exit door.