Premier League: Why Nicolas Pepe has the potential to transform Arsenal
The summer transfer window has slammed shut in the English Premier League and the season has just got underway. In the window, a total of eleven players switched from the French Ligue 1 to the Premier League, and six players switched from the German Bundesliga to England's top flight.
One of those eleven from Ligue 1 to grab the headlines was the most expensive transfer from a foreign club to the Premier League in the summer, and that was Arsenal's signing of Nicolas Pépé from LOSC Lille.
The 24-year-old Ivorian international signed for the Gunners in a deal worth around £72 million, thereby smashing their transfer record. When a team breaks its transfer record for a player, the expectations increase for that player and the team as well, and there is nothing different here with Pépé and Arsenal.
Arsenal have signed the pacey winger on the back of an incredible season in Ligue 1 last time out. The Ivorian scored 23 goals and assisted 12 times in 40 appearances for Les Dogues. This scintillating form allowed Lille to finish second and qualify for the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 2014.
It was Pépé's contribution which made the huge difference, because in the league he contributed to nearly half of their goals that season, and Lille scored 68 goals with Pépé scoring 22 and assisting 11. Only Kylian Mbappé and Nimes' Téji Savanier had more goals and assists respectively. One incredible performance to note was the 5-1 win against PSG, where Pépé netted one and assisted two goals in the win.
So what will he bring to Arsenal? Unai Emery made it clear that he needed a winger during the window, and he has acquired one incredible one in Pépé. He was linked to clubs such as Napoli and Manchester United during the window but picked Arsenal.
The Gunners now boast a front three which can match the top two especially Liverpool with Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and now Pépé.
If Pépé can replicate the form he had last season in the Premier League, Arsenal will be hard to contain. However, there will always be the question of whether he can make the step up to the Premier League.
The French Ligue 1 is regarded as a relatively less tougher league than the Premier League, especially when there can be six teams competing for the title in England, compared to PSG steamrolling the league each year with their financial power.
The Gunners will hope that Pépé can become another one of the many players they have bought from France and successfully transitioned to the Premier League. Names such as Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and Sylvain Wiltord come to the mind when we speak of successful players Arsenal have bought from across the channel.
With the record transfer fee and an impressive season last time out, the pressure is on Pépé to become the next big success from France for the Gunners.