Arsenal transfer EXCLUSIVE: Gunners will be ‘in for a treat’ with £72m signing Nicolas Pepe, says Lille team-mate Jose Fonte

29 Jul

Lille defender Jose Fonte has told talkSPORT Arsenal fans ‘will be in for a treat’ with Ivory Coast forward Nicolas Pepe, who is close to joining the Gunners.

The former Southampton and West Ham man says the 24-year-old has ‘always dreamed’ of playing in the Premier League and will be a great fit for the north London side – branding him an ‘incredible’ talent.

Arsenal are understood to be closing in on a club-record £72million deal for Pepe and could announce his signing later this week.

Nicolas Pepe is set for a summer move following an excellent season at Lille – with Arsenal widely believed to be the destination

Following Sunday’s pre-season defeat to Lyon in the Emirates Cup, manager Unai Emery said the club are ‘working on’ signings to improve the team and talked up the club’s interest in Pepe.

The winger, who scored 22 Ligue 1 goals and assisted 11 last season, is expected to have his medical with the English side in the coming days.

Speaking exclusively to talkSPORT host Jim White, Fonte said he is happy for his young team-mate, who he believes can develop into a world-class star in an Arsenal shirt.

“He’s incredible,” said the Portugal international.

“If he can reach the same level that he did last year in Lille, which I believe he will, I think Arsenal fans will be very happy.

“He’s super quick, his left foot is silky, his 1v1 is second to none, he finishes really good, he takes penalties and free kicks.

“He’s a very accomplished player and I think Arsenal fans will be in for a treat.”

Arsenal are believed to have beaten a host of top clubs to Pepe’s signing, with the winger now set on joining the Gunners.

Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli were both strongly linked with the forward in recent weeks, while Manchester United, Everton and Liverpool have also been linked with an interest over the course of the summer.

Fonte is ‘not surprised’ at the level of interest shown after his shining campaign, saying he is a ‘special player’ who has what it takes to become one of the best in the world.

He added: “I’m not surprised at all [that many other clubs wanted Pepe]. It’s not always that you have a player like this.

“I’ve played with a lot of players and this kid is special. There’s no doubt about it, he’s special.

“He can get to a very, very high level and can be one of the best in the world, 100 per cent, I’m confident he has everything in place to get there.

Nicolas Pepe was directly involved in an impressive 33 goals for Lille last season

“He’s a young boy still, he has always wanted to Premier League as we used to chat in the dressing room. So I’m happy for him if it happens.

“The Premier League is the best league in the world, Arsenal is a great club and I’m sure he’ll enjoy London as well.

“I’m excited to see him play in the Premier League.

“He had so many options, he had so many clubs looking at him. I actually didn’t see Arsenal coming. I heard more about PSG and Napoli, I didn’t hear about Arsenal until last week, but it’s great for him.”

Listen back to talkSPORT’s interview with Lille defender Jose Fonte IN FULL above