Wow, wow, wow… Raul S has pulled off the shock signing of the summer, with Dave Ornstein announcing the Spaniard has reeled in one of the best talents in Ligue 1 with Nicolas Pépé.
I am SHOOK.
Pepe to Arsenal. Hahahahah
— Le Grove (@LeGrove) July 13, 2019
The above tweet is obviously a massive L on my part, but there are layers to my unprophetic words. Firstly, the fact we’ve managed to scrabble together €80m for a player is quite incredible. If there were a saying from this summer it’d be…
‘It’s all about the instalment plan, fam’
Secondly, I am HUGELY surprised that we were the only major club outside Napoli in for his talents. I know I have repeatedly defended what Arsenal is to players and managers around the world, but I didn’t think we were in that league of intrigue for names that had clubs like Paris and Liverpool sniffing. Just goes to show you, London is a huge pull, the full stadium is unique, the training ground is special, the chance to play must also be important, and the new guys must be able to sell a dream.
What a moment, I can’t remember Arsenal dropping a signing this major since we brought in Thierry Henry. He’s the right-winger of our dreams. The most exciting Ivorian since Yaya Toure stepped foot in Boreham Wood (Jokes Kolo, jokes). He scored 23 goals last season and gave 12 assists. He’s been making a contribution to Lille every 101 minutes, which is far more impressive than what Zaha has been doing at Palace over the past season. The best he’s mustered is a contribution every 152 in his best ever year last season.
The player himself is a joy to watch, for some reason I spent a lot of time watching Ligue 1 last year and he’s been one of the stand out guys. He’s powerfully built, standing at 6ft. I think he’s slightly lighter in frame than Zaha, but he’s electric on the ball. He has deft feet, he moves at pace, he’ll come deep, he’ll stretch teams and in front of goal last season he blew up.
We’ve struggled for years to add players with athleticism to our frontline, it’s great to see we’re finally moving in on players that are a huge issue for teams on the counter. When you have a shite defence like we do, the last thing we need is to be pressed into our own half because the only person chasing a long ball is Auba (who can be crowded out physically in big games).
Outside that, this has been a fucking great signing for the fans. This is a premium signing. I really think Zaha would have been good for us, but that could have gone the way of Welbeck, or it could have just been a move that was ok.
Pepe has a higher ceiling than Zaha, I think he’s better technically, and he’s 2 years younger. Our guy has resale value as well, which is super important when you look how we’re going to have to work the ins and outs moving forward.
It’ll also be good for the squad morale. No one wants to go back to preseason and have no new faces to look at. This will add the squad vibes and it’ll be just as fun for the players as it has been for the fans.
I know that a few of journos are saying the move favoured us because we were willing to give his agency team the commissions they wanted. It seems like the cost of football these days, but it’s dodgy all the same. We’ve lost out on lots of big names in the past because we’ve ignored the dark arts of the game, and now it looks like that’s where we’re playing them… but like most things in sport, you cease to care if you have a shiny new player rolling out in a redshirt.
I did think it was quite amusing that Raul and the exec leadership team spent an afternoon getting pounded at the fan Q&A for basically no reason… they could have just said we’d be signing Pepe this week and everyone would have shut the fuck up. It’s a bit like chewing out your partner for not doing anything for your birthday, then packing up your bags and leaving them, only find out their last-ditch attempt to meet you was a surprise birthday party with the Rolling Stones.
What I find particularly handsome about this summer is that the roof of the house has blown off and we’re out the front painting with a really nice Farrow and Ball shade of gray. Where are the defenders?!
Are we Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle? It’s looking that way… but hey, at least the players are exciting.
See you in the comments!