Nicolas Pepe is set to become an Arsenal player this week in a club-record transfer.
The Ivory Coast international, 24, has returned from his break following the Africa Cup of Nations and Lille are said to have agreed $87 million deals with both Arsenal and Napoli to sell him this summer.
Pepe is also said to be attracting a late bid from Paris Saint-Germain, but Sky Sports say that Pepe has decided he will move to Arsenal. The report adds that he will undergo a medical in London in the coming days.
What’s that? Oh yes, we thought Arsenal didn’t have any money to spend this summer. Apparently they do.
The $87 million deal for Pepe will be paid in several instalments by Arsenal in order to fit into their financial plans, with Unai Emery‘s side winning the race for his signature.
Pepe scored 22 goals in Ligue 1 last season as Lille finished second behind PSG, and only Kylian Mbappe was involved in more goals as the tricky winger (who can also play as a center forward) added 11 assists in the league.
But do Arsenal really need another attacking player? It would appear the one area of their squad which is well-stocked with options, but when a player of Pepe’s ability, and potential, becomes available then you have to snap him up.
The Gunners never got close to the $100 million valuation Crystal Palace wanted for Wilfried Zaha, but it is clear that Emery wants a speedy winger to link up with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette in attack. What this means for the futures of Alex Iwobi, Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan remains to be seen, but Pepe’s arrival is a major coup as Manchester United, Liverpool and Bayern Munich were all linked with signing Pepe.
If the signing of Dani Ceballos on a season-long from Real Madrid excited Arsenal’s fans, this deal for Pepe will knock their socks off. In addition, signing highly-rated teenage center back William Saliba from Saint-Etienne for $33 million then loaning him back for this season is another positive move. That last transfer doesn’t help Arsenal where they need help most (defense) this season, and that is still the concern regarding their chances of finishing in the top four.
They conceded 51 PL goals last season, the third most of teams who finished in the top 10, and they’ve also seen club captain Laurent Koscielny refuse to go on their U.S. tour during preseason as he wants a move away from the club. However, Rob Holding‘s return from injury is a big boost and Hector Bellerin is also set to come back soon after a lengthy spell out.
Emery has to deliver a top four finish this season and now that he’s had an entire campaign to bed in his ideas, he must deliver a return to the Champions League for the Gunners. Pepe will help that push in a big way, but Arsenal must get better defensively if they’re going to be a success under Emery.
Ninety minutes separates Celtic from a place in the Third Qualifying Round of the UEFA Champions League, as it moves up the qualifying ladder towards the group stage.
After a 5-0 thrashing of Estonian side Nõmme Kalju in the first leg, Celtic now travels east to take care of business. Due to the aggregate lead as well Celtic opening its league season this coming weekend, manager Neill Lennon has opted to leave some first-team regulars at home, and give some of the fresh faces a chance to earn some minutes.
[READ: Bournemouth makes a big signing]
James Forrest, Tom Rogic and Callum McGregor were left home, along with Arsenal target Kieran Tierney. In their place, new defensive signing Christopher Jullien is expected to play along with winger Martin Shved.
Elsewhere, in the League Path side of the bracket, PSV Eindhoven looks to hold on to a narrow 3-2 lead with a trip to FC Basel. PSV is coming off a tough 2-0 loss to Ajax in the Johan Cruyff Schaal, but Mark Van Bommel’s side rested a number of starters, including Mexico National Team stars Hirving Lozano and Erick Gutierrez. Can PSV hold on and advance, or will Basel surprise the Dutch side in Switzerland.
Here’s a look at all the second-leg matches taking place:
Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League qualifying second leg action
Maccabi Tel Aviv v. CFR Cluj (0-1), 1 p.m.
Nõmme Kalju v. Celtic (0-5), 1 p.m.
APOEL v. Sutjeska (1-0), 1 p.m.
Valletta v. Ferencvaros (1-3), 2 p.m.
Dinamo Zagreb v. Saburtalo (2-0), 2 p.m.
FC Basel v. PSV Eindhoven (2-3), 2 p.m.
Olimpiakos v. Viktoria Plzen (0-0) 2:30 p.m.
Whether because of injuries to other players or a change of heart from manager Mauricio Pochettino, there was an interesting name among Tottenham’s squad for the preseason Audi Cup in Munich.
Left back Danny Rose made Tottenham’s 26-man squad for the tournament, which begins with a match against Real Madrid on Wednesday at the Allianz Arena. The inclusion of Rose comes just weeks after he was left off Tottenham’s roster for its tour of East Asia, with a statement that Rose was free to negotiate his exit from the club.
[READ: Marotta says Inter made “fair offer” for Lukaku]
However, Rose has still remained a Tottenham played in that time and could be taking advantage of some injuries to the squad in defensive areas. Tottenham confirmed that Eric Dier, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Ben Davies are all working back to fitness from injuries, while Serge Aurier underwent hand surgery for an injury suffered while playing at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. All of these has left Tottenham needing to bring Rose along.
Perhaps, for Tottenham’s game, Rose will play a few minutes and be in the shop window, with enough of a performance that another Premier League side would pull the trigger to sign the talented left back.
While Rose hasn’t started more than 20 games in the Premier League each of the last three seasons for injury and coaching decisions, he was the starter in Tottenham’s…
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