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Nicolas Pepe’s former Lille teammate Jose Fonte predicted Arsenal fans would be in for treat once their new club-record signing settles in, and the 24-year-old already looks well at home if his opening training session was anything to go by. Despite a reported meagre transfer budget of just £45million, Arsenal were able to beat the likes of Napoli to one of Europe’s most coveted wingers and duly confirmed Pepe’s arrival on Thursday.
Nico straight into action with the rondo nutmegs ?
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 2, 2019
The Ivory Coast international is in line to make his first appearance for the Gunners on Sunday against Barcelona at Camp Nou and Arsenal are hopeful he will be ready to play a part in their Premier League opener against Newcastle at St James’ Park a week on Saturday.
Pepe trained alongside his new colleague’s for the first time on Friday and immediately showcased the sort of trickery and audaciousness that marked him out of one of the most exciting players in Ligue 1 last season.
Confronted by Granit Xhaka, the leading candidate to succeed want-away club captain Laurent Koscielny, Pepe produced a classic nutmeg to leave the Switzerland international reeling.
And as if to prove it wasn’t a stroke of luck, Pepe produced the exact same manoeuvre moments later to outsmart fellow new arrival Gabriel Martinelli.
While many pundits have identified Arsenal’s defence as the area of his team which required strengthening as a priority, Emery has chosen to add to his already star-studded attack.
Explaining the logic behind Pepe’s signing, he said: ‘Nicolas is a highly-rated and talented winger who was wanted by many of the top teams in Europe.
‘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.’