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Lille chief sheds light on why Pepe chose Arsenal

Lille president sheds light on why Nicolas Pepe chose Arsenal

August 12, 2019 By Emmanuel K. Budu-Annor
The Ivorian winger joined the Gunners for a club-record fee this summer.

Lille president Gerard Lopez has revealed why Nicolas Pepe opted to join Arsenal amid interest from a host of top European clubs. The 24-year-old winger's departure from Ligue 1 was inevitable and according to his former chief he fancied a move to the Gunners because he believe he could make a big impact there.

Having excelled in France last season, Pepe was among the most sought-after players in Europe this summer. The likes of Bayern Munich, PSG, Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham, among others, were all reportedly interested in securing the service of the Ivorian international.

However, it was Arsenal that eventually landed his signature, making him the club's most expensive signing in history by matching Lille's £72 million valuation. The deal came as a surprise to many considering the fact that Unai Emery's side had a scanty budget and also failed to qualify for this season's UEFA Champions League.

Yet, the club's shortcomings did not deter Pepe from joining and, according to President Lopez, the former Lille sensation only considered the bigger picture ahead of his switch.

"There was two things he was looking for," he told Sky Sports.

"Either he was going to play Champions League right away or he was going to be part of something that could play Champions League, but was going to be big, where his impact would not only be in terms of goals, but on the club.

"There were two clubs that had that for him - Napoli and Arsenal "Napoli playing Champions League and Arsenal one of the big big clubs in the Premier League.

"He did choose the Premier League and Arsenal because that's where he wants to leave his mark."

Pepe marked his debut for the Gunners by coming off the bench in the second half of Sunday's Premier League away win over Newcastle.

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