Speaking to L’Équipe Mercato, Nicolas Pépé’s agent Samir Khiat explained the reasoning behind a move to Arsenal.
“For us it was the best decision for Nicolas, it was the right choice. We always made the footballing choices, rather than financial ones. Arsenal can bring him a continuity in terms of what he did before. And also in terms of playing time. What he did last year… he has no limits.”
“He was sought after by the biggest clubs in Europe, there were offers from top 5 European clubs. Arsenal have an ambitious project, they want to go to the next level, as you have seen with the names linked to them in recent days, and Nicolas can become a huge part of that. For a footballer, faith and belief is everything. We wanted absolute certainty that Nicolas would play. A lot of clubs interested already have their attacking trios set. The main aspect for us today was about thinking what’s best for him… stories about us going where the commission was best is rubbish.”
Asked about offers from Premier League clubs who are qualified for the Champions’ League, Liverpool mentioned by the interviewer:
When you come to a club like that, there are already players in their place. It is difficult, you would go there and say you play in cup matches, you play when the front three are not there. Our aim was for Nicolas to be someone important to give him all the elements to show his ability. The future will show us to be right or wrong, Arsenal are still a big club who play in the biggest league in the world. I want to thank the Lille President Lopez, because when the first offers came in, the president was still waiting for two big offers to come in from two enormous European clubs. Those bids would have been worth more than Arsenal were offering. But he said to us that we could choose before even formally receiving them, even though they would have made Lille more money, I thought that was very classy.
On whether he will play vs Newcastle this week:
I don’t know if he will play on Sunday, I am not the coach. Nicolas has been very well received, all the players were excited for him to sign. That was an important thing. The day after he signed, Pépé had an English teacher to try and make him acclimatise as quickly as possible, little things like that show how much the player was wanted by Arsenal. It is the biggest transfer in Arsenal’s history and for African football, there is pressure, but he is prepared.