Unnamed Saudi club ‘positions itself’ to rescue Arsenal as Edu hopes to ‘negotiate transfer fee’

Arsenal winger Nicolas Pepe during a match. Credit: Alamy
Arsenal winger Nicolas Pepe during a match. Credit: Alamy

An unidentified club in Saudi Arabia are in talks to sign Arsenal flop Nicolas Pepe, according to French journalist Fabrice Hawkins.

Arsenal signed Pepe from Lille for a club-record £72million fee in the 2019 summer transfer window.

His record of 27 goals and 21 assists in 112 appearances for the Gunners is by no means horrendous, but not what you would expect from a £72m attacker.

The Ivorian played a big part in Arsenal’s FA Cup success in Mikel Arteta’s first season at the club, however, the emergence of Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli saw him fall down the pecking order and ultimately become surplus to requirements.

Pepe was sent on loan to Nice last summer as Arteta could not promise Pepe the game time he desired.

The 28-year-old provided nine goal contributions in 28 games for the French club and did not feature for Arsenal in pre-season due to injury.

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Even if Pepe was fully fit, he probably would not have been included in the Gunners’ pre-season plans as Arteta and director of football Edu Gaspar work on selling the player before the summer window closes.

Arsenal have terminated many contracts in recent years and are hoping to avoid a similar fate with their former record signing, whose £72m transfer fee was usurped by the £100m the Gunners paid to sign Declan Rice in July.

Besiktas have been the club most strongly linked with the Ivorian international, though talks do not appear to be advancing after Pepe reportedly turned down a contract offer from the Turkish giants.

And according to RMC Sport journalist Fabrice Hawkins, Arsenal are now ‘negotiating a transfer fee’ with an unnamed Saudi club.

Hawkins says a club in Saudi Arabia has ‘positioned itself’ to sign Pepe and this transfer is now ‘the hottest lead’ as Arsenal desperately look to receive a fee for the player.

It is added that the former Lille star turned down a three-year contract put on the table by Besiktas.

Pepe only has one year left on the contract he signed when he joined Arsenal four years ago.

Having terminated the contracts of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Willian in the past, it would be great business if Edu manages to get some money for Pepe.

Arsenal are eagerly looking to offload a number of players before the transfer deadline having spent around £200m on Rice, Jurrien Timber and Kai Havertz.

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