Arsenal have completed the signing of Lille star Nicolas Pepe for £72m setting club-record signing
Nicolas Pepe, 24 was a shining star last season in Ligue 1 with Lille with his skills, speed, agility to break through defense lines and scoring abilities which made him a target to top clubs in Europe such as Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Liverpool before Arsenal won the race with a £72m bid.
Pepe is now the club-record signing and one of the top signings of the Premier League's history. So is he a good signing for Arsenal and how can he prove useful under Unai Emery's command?
His perfectly timed runs both off the ball and with the ball in combination with his electric pace, is a great threat for teams that like to defend with a high line.
Nicolas Pepe has a very strong left foot and this can be both his strength and weakness.
Pepe scored 23 goals last season for Lille and 22 of these goals were scored from his left-foot and just one from his right and he took 106 shots with his left-foot and just 10 with his right, so if the defenders force him on his right foot, they can limit the damage to some extent.
Pepe's biggest weapon is his foot-work and close control which helps him win one-on-one battles, he scored a lot of goals from these 1v1 situations where he cut inside from the wide area and puts the full-backs on his weaker-foot. Pepe makes 2.7 successful dribbles per game and wins 2.8 fouls per game.
Wingers are usually not that powerful in the air but Pepe is 6 feet tall and he is a real threat in the air.
Pepe has a penalty success rate of 90%. He has taken 10 Penalty kicks in his career and only missed his target once. Some would criticize Pepe for scoring many penalties but little they know he won 80% of those penalties himself.
Pepe's 11 assists are a clear indication that he is not just a goal-scorer but a creator of goals as well. Pepe uses his vision in combination with his good passing skills to create goals for his team-mates.
Pepe can help Arsenal by his pace and his ability to cut inside from the wide and his agility to ask the ball from behind the back of the defenders, his one-on-on game and his vision and ability to create goal chances for his team-mates, all of this make him a top-class winger which is what Arsenal was in need for during these last years and we could see a deadly front of Pepe on the right wing, Lacazette as a central striker and Aubameyang on the left wing and with the fact that Pepe also speaks fluent French, the front trio would find no problems linking with each other.
However, the Ivorian needs to work more on his weak foot and his defending abilities and of course, he needs to learn how to press as that's one of Arsenal's basic tactics under Unai Emery.