Arsenal sign Nicolas Pepe in club record deal

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Arsenal have completed the signing of Lille winger Nicolas Pepe in a deal worth a club-record £72 million.

Ligue 1 runners-up Lille on Thursday announced the departure of attacking duo Nicolas Pepe and Rafael Leao to Arsenal and AC Milan respectively.

The 24-year-old Pepe was announced by Arsenal as record signing with a reported 72 million pounds, shattering previous record of 56 million pounds when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang joined the Gunners in January 2018.

"Being here is very emotional because it has not been easy for me. I have come a long way and struggled a lot and so signing for this great club is a big reward," Pepe told the club's website.

Pepe joined Lille in 2017, scoring 22 league goals last term, only behind Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe.

He will form Arsenal's attacking line along with Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, wearing the No. 19 jersey in the London club.

Signing Pepe displays Arsenal's strong desire to return to UEFA Champions League after finishing out of top four in Premier League and losing the Europa League final to Chelsea last season.

"Nicolas is a highly-rated and talented winger who was wanted by many of the top teams in Europe," Arsenal's head coach Unai Emery commented on Pepe, who was also linked with a move to several other European clubs.

Emery said, "Signing a top-class winger has been one of our key objectives in this transfer window and I'm delighted he's joining. He will add pace, power and creativity, with the aim of bringing more goals to our team."

Leao, 20, also played a key part in helping Lille finish second in last season's French top-flight league with eight goals in 26 matches since joining in 2018.

The young Portuguese signed a five-year contract with Serie A outfit AC Milan, with a reported transfer fee of 35 million euros.

To fill in the blank left by the star duo's departure, Lille announced they have recruited Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen from Belgian side Charleroi on a five-year deal.

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