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ARSENAL

Arsenal reach deal to sign Lille's Nicolas Pepe for €80m

The sought-after striker has been a target of several European clubs, including Manchester United and Napoli.

Arsenal reach deal to sign Lille's Nicolas Pepe for €80m

Arsenal have reached an agreement for Lille forward Nicolas Pepe, reports in the UK claim.

According to BBC journalist David Ornstein, the Gunners will pay 80 million euros for the French striker, a fee which will be paid in instalments due to the Premier League club's budget limitations this summer.

The sought-after 24-year-old has been a target of several European clubs, including Manchester United and Napoli, who were understood to be in pole position to sign him.

The player’s representatives met with Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis as recently as Thursday. And Ornstein also reports that although Lille also had an agreement in place with Napoli, his agents rejected an offer from the Serie A club.

The Ivory Coast international drew the attention of Europe’s top clubs after an impressive season in which he scored 23 goals in 41 games for Lille.

Pepe would become Arsenal coach Unai Emery’s fourth acquisition this summer.

Pepe to become Arsenal's fourth summer signing

Pepe would become Arsenal coach Unai Emery’s fourth acquisition this summer. The North London outfit have already secured the signatures of Brazilian winger Garbiel Martinelli (Ituano, 6.7 million euros); William Saliba (St-Etienne, 30 million euros) and this week agreed a loan deal with Real Madrid for Spanish midfielder Dani Ceballos.

After Arsenal’s fifth place finish and Europa League final disappointment last season, Emery is looking to build a squad to fight for a top-four finish in the upcoming campaign. And the signing of Pepe should go a long way in helping the club’s chances of reaching its goals next season.

Napoli lose Pepe as hunt continues for James Rodriguez

Having apparently lost out on Pepe, Napoli, meanwhile, will hope they can secure the signing of their other main transfer target this summer, Real Madrid's James Rodriguez.

When asked about James, Gli Azurri coach Carlo Ancelotti confirmed negotiations were ongoing with Madrid, who are looking to offload the Colombian as part of their summer clear-out operation.

“I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic about James,” said the ex-Chelsea boss on Friday.

“He is among the players that interest us. We will see what happens, there is still a month. The negotiations are open. Real Madrid wants to sell him, and Napoli want to sign him.”