Arsenal given five YEARS to pay club-record £72m fee for Lille forward Nicolas Pepe… with Premier League outfit paying just £20m up front

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Arsenal will pay an initial £20million for Nicolas Pepe, as the Lille attacker moves closer to a club-record £72m switch

Despite working with a limited transfer budget this summer, Arsenal look on course to complete what could be the most expensive signing by any Premier League club in this window.

It is understood Arsenal will stay within budget by paying as little £20m up front for the Ivory Coast international, with the remaining £52m paid in instalments within five years.

Winger Pepe is expected to have a medical by the end of the week before completing his move to the Emirates Stadium.

The signing will be an impressive coup for the Gunners hierarchy given Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and Napoli have all been credited with an interest.

The 24-year-old Pepe will form part of what should be an exciting forward line next season.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette scored 50 goals between them last season and Pepe will add to manager Unai Emery’s firepower.

He was second only to PSG’s Kylian Mbappe in the Ligue 1 scoring charts last season, registering 22 goals and 11 assists as Lille finished second.

And Arsenal’s spending may not stop there. The club still have a keen interest in Celtic left back Kieran Tierney and are after a centre half.

Meanwhile, Lacazette expects to be fit for the start of the Premier League season at Newcastle on Sunday week despite suffering a sprained ankle in Arsenal’s defeat against Lyon last Sunday.

Lacazette was substituted after 12 minutes of the 2-1 loss and left the Emirates wearing a protective boot on his left foot. But the France striker was seen cycling and training in the gym with his team-mates on Monday — without the boot — and neither club nor player are concerned it is anything serious.

Arsenal will continue to assess the Lacazette’s fitness over the next few days and he is unlikely to be risked in Wednesday’s friendly against Angers.

Emery is then expected to provide an update on his fitness before Sunday’s clash with Barcelona at the Nou Camp.

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