Arsenal have finally discarded of defender Carl Jenkinson, who has joined Nottingham Forest on a three-year deal.

The right-back, 27, has agreed a three-year contract with the Reds to become their eighth close-season signing and is available for Saturday's Championship visit to Leeds United.

Jenkinson, capped once at senior level by England, joined the Gunners from Charlton Athletic in 2011, but he made just 70 appearances for the club in that time.

He has also had loan spells with West Ham and Birmingham City, however he remained with Unai Emery's side last season, playing eight times across all competitions.

 

Tottenham are ready to make a splash before the transfer window closes in England – by landing Paulo Dybala and Philippe Coutinho.

The Champions League runners-up could add the two playmakers to their squad before the window shuts on Thursday, with Christian Eriksen potentially leaving.

In what looks set to be another chaotic end to the window, Spurs could be central to plenty of movement.

 

TOP STORY – SPURS' DYBALA OFFER ACCEPTED, EYE COUTINHO LOAN

Juventus have accepted a £65million (€70.6m) offer from Tottenham for Dybala, according to Sky Sports.

Dybala has already reportedly rejected a move to Manchester United due to an unwillingness to take a pay cut, and a switch to Spurs is now in his hands.

Tottenham are also leading the race to sign Barcelona attacker Coutinho on loan, according to The Sun.

Arsenal and United are said to be interested in Coutinho as well, though a report from AS claims the Gunners are not considering a move.

 

ROUND-UP

- Spurs' moves for Dybala and Coutinho could send dominoes falling. United want to pay just £50m to take Eriksen – who is out of contract at the season's end – from Tottenham to Old Trafford, according to the Mirror.

- That would boost Real Madrid's hopes of signing Paul Pogba from United. Sport and Marca report the France international's chances of leaving the Red Devils rest on their ability to sign a replacement – like Eriksen – before the window closes in England.

- Barca are attempting to accelerate Neymar's return to Camp Nou. The cover of Sport says the Spanish champions are looking for Coutinho and Ivan Rakitic – who is potentially set for Paris Saint-Germain – to depart so they can land the Brazil star from the Ligue 1 giants.

- With Romelu Lukaku potentially set for Inter, Man United are looking for a replacement. Yahoo Sport France say the Premier League club have made an offer for Lyon forward Moussa Dembele.

- While Arsenal's possible chase of Coutinho is uncertain, they have been linked with defenders after Laurent Koscielny's departure to Bordeaux. Italian journalist Alfredo Pedulla reports Juve centre-back Daniele Rugani has agreed terms with the Gunners, who may initially take him on a two-year loan before paying £36.9m (€40m).

- Staying at the Emirates Stadium, Mesut Ozil could finally be set for the exit. The Mirror reports Ozil's representatives are set for talks with DC United over a move to MLS, where the German could replace Wayne Rooney after the forward's move to Derby County in January was confirmed.

 

Arsenal legend Ian Wright claims Laurent Koscielny "should be ashamed" after his move to Bordeaux was announced with the Frenchman throwing off a Gunners shirt.

Ex-Arsenal captain Koscielny belatedly sealed a return to Ligue 1 on Tuesday, having refused to travel on the Premier League club's pre-season tour.

The nature of the transfer had already upset many Arsenal fans, and a social media video prompted further outrage on the day of his switch.

A clip, shared by Bordeaux, showed Koscielny taking off his Arsenal shirt to reveal his new club's top underneath.

Wright was among those unimpressed, posting on Twitter: "This hurts. The level of disrespect. You should be ashamed for the way you've left the club after nine years!

"Got what you wanted and still trying to have a dig. Hope it's worth it in the long run."

Meanwhile, Koscielny sought to explain his exit to Arsenal fans on his Instagram page.

"As you know, I engaged with Bordeaux," he wrote. "After nine years spent at Arsenal, I took the decision to leave.

"I have spent wonderful years with this club, nine years during which I learned, evolved, grew up. This experience made me the player I am today.

"My decision to leave has been discussed for months with my club, my team-mates, my coach, and it has been a well-thought decision.

"I see this departure like a new turning point in my life as a player but also in in my life as a man and a family man.

"However, I hope you understand, and in any case, I cannot be thankful enough for these years past at Arsenal. I am aware of everything that the club and you supporters have brought to me.

"But it is time for me to go home, so today my will is to join Bordeaux. This is a new challenge that I count on taking with determination."

Arsenal are said to be looking to sign a new centre-back in the final two days of the transfer window, having struggled defensively last season even before Koscielny's departure.

Laurent Koscielny has succeeded in securing a move away from Arsenal, joining Ligue 1 side Bordeaux for a reported €5million (£4.6m).

Former France international Koscielny has ended a nine-season stay in the Premier League by returning to the French top flight.

"We decided to sanction his move to Bordeaux once we agreed acceptable transfer terms," the Gunners said in a statement.

"We thank Laurent for his contribution to the club and wish him all the best for the future."

The 33-year-old plunged his Arsenal future into doubt in July when the club confirmed he had refused to travel on their pre-season tour of the United States.

Koscielny featured 17 times in the Premier League last term, despite missing the first few months due to a ruptured Achilles tendon.

The Gunners signed the centre-back from Lorient in 2010 and he has been one of few consistent performers for the club in that time.

After filling in as captain regularly from the 2015-16 campaign onwards, Koscielny took the armband on a full-time basis at the start of last term following the retirement of Per Mertesacker.

Koscielny's departure will likely bring further concern from supporters about their underwhelming defensive options, with Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Nacho Monreal, Rob Holding and the much-maligned Shkodran Mustafi their most recognisable central defenders unless new signings arrive before Thursday's deadline.

He will provide much-needed defensive reinforcement for Bordeaux, who saw first-choice centre-back Jules Kounde move to Sevilla earlier in the transfer window.

Laurent Koscielny has succeeded in securing a move away from Arsenal, joining Ligue 1 side Bordeaux for a reported €5million (£4.6m).

After breaking the world-record fee for a defender, Manchester United do not appear to be done just yet.

With Harry Maguire joining Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James at Old Trafford, a London-based Dane could make the move to Manchester.

It could also lead to an in-demand Portuguese midfielder swapping Sporting CP for Tottenham.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED MAKE LAST-DITCH ERIKSEN MOVE

Manchester United are hoping to sign Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen before Thursday's deadline, according to the Daily Mail.

Eriksen is reluctant to renew his contract – which expires in 2020 – with Tottenham and United are looking to lure the Denmark international to Manchester prior to the transfer window closing.

If Eriksen, who has also been linked to Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Juventus, leaves Tottenham then he could be replaced with Sporting CP captain Bruno Fernandes.

Portugal international Fernandes has long been tipped to join United.

 

ROUND-UP

- InfoSport+ says Paris Saint-Germain have made a €60million offer for Juventus attacker Paulo Dybala. Dybala was linked to Manchester United as part of a swap deal involving Romelu Lukaku but that move has seemingly ended over reported wage demands.

- Staying with the same theme and Corriere dello Sport reports that D-Day is approaching. Juventus head coach Maurizio Sarri is pushing Dybala to leave Turin, as the Argentina international weighs up offers from Manchester United and PSG. Lukaku, meanwhile, is said to have already reached an agreement with the Serie A champions.

Bayern Munich are set to sign Manchester City's Leroy Sane, claims France Football. The Germany international will reportedly return to his homeland in a club-record €113m (£104.4m) transfer on a five-year contract.

Inter are considering signing Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal on loan, according to FcInterNews. Vidal worked under Antonio Conte at Juventus and they could be reunited in Milan as Barca look to lighten their midfield following the arrival of Frenkie de Jong.

- Widespread reports in Italy claim a deal involving Joao Cancelo and Danilo is done. Manchester City will reportedly send Danilo and €28m to Juventus in exchange for Portugal full-back Cancelo.

- According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Premier League side Wolves are ready to offer €30m for Juventus defender Daniele Rugani. The 25-year-old has also been linked to Arsenal following the arrivals of Matthijs de Ligt and Merih Demiral.

Everton have put together a £100m transfer package to sign Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha. According to The Sun, Everton will offer £65m plus striker Cenk Tosun and midfielder James McCarthy.

- Widespread reports in the United Kingdom claim Wayne Rooney is close to joining Championship outfit Derby County as a player-coach. Former Manchester United and England captain Rooney has two seasons remaining on his contract with MLS team DC United.

Manchester United's bid to improve their backline has seen them make Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka two of the world's most-expensive defenders.

England defender Maguire has joined from Leicester City for a reported £80million, surpassing the record set by Liverpool's capture of Virgil van Dijk.

Earlier in this transfer window United spent £50m to acquire right-back Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace as they commenced a substantial rebuild of their squad.

Maguire has not cost United as much as their biggest signing Paul Pogba, who joined from Juventus in 2016 in a then-world record £89.3m deal, but he is the most expensive defender of all time.

Here, we profile the men at the back who have cost a fair whack.


HARRY MAGUIRE – Leicester City to Manchester United, £80m

The reported £80m fee is a serious outlay for a player who was playing for Hull City in the Championship three years ago.

It has been a rapid rise for Maguire, who is now first choice at the back for England alongside Manchester City defender John Stones. United will hope there is even more to come from the 26-year-old.

VIRGIL VAN DIJK – Southampton to Liverpool, £75m

Liverpool tried unsuccessfully to buy Van Dijk in June 2017 and were accused of tapping him up by Southampton, but the defender's absence from several matchday squads thereafter meant a departure was never far away.

The Reds gave their fans a late Christmas gift in December of the same year, confirming the Netherlands international's arrival and he has looked worth every penny since making the switch to Anfield, winning the Professional Footballers' Association Players' Player of the Year last term and helping the club clinch their sixth Champions League title.

LUCAS HERNANDEZ – Atletico Madrid to Bayern Munich, £68m

Having featured as France's first-choice left-back in their triumphant 2018 World Cup campaign, it did not take long for other clubs to begin being linked with Hernandez. Bayern were reported to have things tied up with the defender by the end of the year, though it was said they were trying to avoid paying his full release clause.

As it happened, Atletico received the €80m required to trigger Lucas' exit at the end of the 2018-19 season, meaning Bayern secured themselves a player who can cover two positions for the next decade. 

MATTHIJS DE LIGT – Ajax to Juventus, £67.5m

United had been strongly linked with De Ligt earlier in the window but it was Juventus who won the race for his much-coveted signature for a fee that, with add-ons, could eventually rise to a sum similar to Van Dijk's price.

Despite still being a teenager, De Ligt's leadership qualities shone through when he was captain of the Ajax team that won a domestic double and reached the Champions League semi-finals last season.

AYMERIC LAPORTE – Athletic Bilbao to Manchester City, £57m

City had been put off by the fee Southampton wanted for Van Dijk but were more willing to part with what was - in January 2018 - a club-record £57m to sign left-sided French centre-back Laporte.

Though he curiously remains without a senior cap for Les Bleus, Laporte has become a key figure under Pep Guardiola and was City's best defender in 2018-19 as they won an unprecedented domestic treble.

BENJAMIN MENDY – Monaco to Manchester City, £51.75m

City broke the record for a defender when they signed Mendy from Monaco in July 2017, the left-back having quickly established himself as one of Europe's most exciting attacking full-backs as his side won the 2016-17 Ligue 1 title and reached that season's Champions League semi-finals.

His arrival was part of a spectacular overhaul of the City backline, which saw them spend close to £165m on three defenders and goalkeeper Ederson, but two serious knee injuries have badly hindered his time in Manchester so far. 

DAVID LUIZ – Chelsea to Paris Saint-Germain, £50m

Paris Saint-Germain paid a whopping fee to sign Brazil international David Luiz from Chelsea in 2014.

He won Ligue 1 in both of his seasons at the Parc des Princes and made it three top-flight titles in a row after he surprisingly returned to Chelsea for £34m in August 2016, claiming his first Premier League winners' medal.

KYLE WALKER – Tottenham to Manchester City, £50m

When Walker joined Spurs from hometown club Sheffield United for £5m in 2009, few would have guessed he would one day become the most expensive English player in history.

Walker, who in June signed a new long-term deal at the Etihad Stadium, quickly established himself as a key component at the back following his July 2017 arrival and he has won two Premier League titles, two EFL Cups and an FA Cup.

AARON WAN-BISSAKA – Crystal Palace to Manchester United, £50m

Walker now has company as his country's most costly player following fellow right-back Wan-Bissaka's arrival on the other side of Manchester.

Wan-Bissaka fits the mould for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who wants young players to spearhead a revival at Old Trafford, and he made 129 tackles last term, more than any other defender across the top five European leagues.

JOHN STONES – Everton to Manchester City, £47.5m

City have certainly shown a willingness to pay large amounts for English talent, with Stones joining the club from Everton in 2016.

The 25-year-old had a difficult first campaign as Guardiola's side under-performed. His displays have since improved considerably, although he largely spent the final weeks of last season among the substitutes. 

(*Prices are as reported at the time of transfers being completed.)

Philippe Coutinho has been linked with a Barcelona exit throughout the close season, but Unai Emery insists Arsenal never discussed his potential arrival.

Brazil international Coutinho has seen Antoine Griezmann arrive at Camp Nou, while former Blaugrana favourite Neymar continues to be discussed as a possible target.

Coutinho's relatively unsuccessful 18-month stint at Barca could therefore be heading towards its conclusion, with Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and Liverpool mooted as potential destinations.

There were also claims Arsenal were looking at a temporary deal for the 27-year-old.

It was reported in Spain that Coutinho had turned the approach down, but Emery, while a fan of the player, says no such move was made.

"I like Coutinho as a footballer, but it is another thing that we are interested in him," the Arsenal boss told El Larguero. "We have never talked about Coutinho."

Arsenal were beaten 2-1 by Barcelona in the Joan Gamper Trophy on Sunday, but Coutinho, who recently returned from the Copa America, was an unused substitute for LaLiga's champions.

The Gunners are well stocked in attacking areas, with Nicolas Pepe arriving from Lille in a club-record move to support Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil.

Jurgen Klopp has also dismissed the possibility of Liverpool signing Coutinho.

Unai Emery hopes to have Nicolas Pepe ready to feature in Arsenal's opening Premier League fixture against Newcastle United but insists he will not rush the winger.

Pepe arrived at Emirates Stadium from Lille last week in a reported club-record £72million deal.

However, the Ivory Coast international was in Africa Cup of Nations action this close season and, having just linked up with Arsenal, sat out a 2-1 friendly defeat to Barcelona on Sunday.

Emery is still optimistic Pepe will be ready for the trip to Newcastle this coming Sunday, but he will take no risks with the 24-year-old.

"[Pepe] has been training with us for two days and we thought it was better to continue training alone [rather than face Barca]," said Arsenal boss Emery.

"[On Monday] we are going to have one training session together. Each day for him and for us is information we can save. We hope he can be available for this match [against Newcastle].

"With him, I want to be patient. He's in the same situation as the other players who have been coming in the last few days. For example, Lucas [Torreira], after one week training, had his first 10 minutes.

"With Pepe, it's the same. After training twice, I think it's better to be training, to be working with us, without playing the match."

Alexandre Lacazette was absent due to injury against the Blaugrana, but Emery could still include him in a front three with Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the first time at the weekend.

"Hopefully [Lacazette] could be for the match against Newcastle," he said. "The doctors are optimistic and we are going to wait.

"The next few days are going to be very important for how he can progress with his injury."

Although Arsenal have bolstered their front line, much-needed reinforcements in defence have not yet arrived heading into the final days of the transfer window.

But Emery insists the club will only splash out on a player who offers something different.

"It's not changed our idea or our message," he said. "We can only sign one player if they can really, really improve our squad, and if we can do that, we are going to do it."

Manchester United look set to miss out on Paulo Dybala, but they had a chance to sign another playmaker as the Premier League giants rejected a bid for Paul Pogba.

Juventus midfielder Dybala was reportedly set to be part of a swap deal involving Romelu Lukaku, but the Argentina international now seems likely to remain in Turin.

While United appear eager to strengthen before the transfer window closes, they received – and rejected – a bid for Pogba that included James Rodriguez from Real Madrid.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UNITED REJECT POGBA, JAMES DEAL WITH DYBALA SET TO STAY AT JUVE

Manchester United rejected a bid of €30million (£27.4m) plus James from Real Madrid for Pogba, according to The Times.

The report says the LaLiga giants are unable to work out a deal approaching the €164.1m (£150m) United reportedly want for France star Pogba.

Now, it seems Juventus could bid for Pogba to return to Turin, with Tuttosport reporting they will offer Dybala, Mario Mandzukic and Blaise Matuidi for the midfielder.

Meanwhile, and also reported by the BBC, Manchester United have ended talks with Dybala because of the attacker's wage demands and amid uncertainty over whether the 25-year-old wanted a move to Old Trafford.

 

ROUND-UP

- Suddenly, Inter are back in the race to sign Lukaku. Sky Sports News report the Serie A side are set to launch a new bid for the Belgium striker in the coming days.

- With United's pursuit of Dybala seemingly off, Corriere dello Sport claim Paris Saint-Germain could be an option for the former Palermo attacker.

- Could Philippe Coutinho be set for a return to the Premier League? Arsenal could make a move for the Barcelona playmaker and former Liverpool star in an audacious loan bid, according to the Mirror.

- Napoli are perhaps ready to give up on signing James. Amid what have been fruitless talks with Madrid, the Serie A side are again expressing an interest in PSV star Hirving Lozano, according to Voetbal International, with the Mexico international's release clause at €40m.

- Andy Carroll's future is unclear, but a return to Newcastle United appears off. The Mirror say the injury riddled striker, who is a free agent after being released by West Ham at the end of 2018-19, will not be heading back to the Premier League club.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles had a night to forget as his own goal and a Luis Suarez volley helped Barcelona to a 2-1 victory over Arsenal in the Joan Gamper Trophy.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looked to have teed himself and the Gunners up for the new Premier League season in style with a fine first-half goal but Barcelona pressed in search of an error that eventually arrived when Maitland-Niles put through his own net.

It was a cruel moment for the 21-year-old in front of a huge Camp Nou crowd and Arsenal boss Unai Emery could have done without having his defender's confidence dented with a Premier League season opener against Newcastle United just six days away.

There were positives for Emery to take from the game, not least the return to action of Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac after they were caught up in an apparent carjacking attempt, but Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde will have been the happier coach at the final whistle after seeing Suarez fire a late winner.

The Blaugrauna dominated for long spells, with the midfield trio of Frenkie de Jong, Ivan Rakitic and Riqui Puig implementing Valverde's possession-based style impeccably in the absence of Lionel Messi, and the Spanish champions' patience paid off.

Maitland-Niles started positively, making inroads in possession on the Arsenal right, but he was static as Jordi Alba drifted past him before hitting a rising drive that Leno saved at head height.

Arsenal went ahead 10 minutes before the break when Ozil's incisive pass found Aubameyang with his back to goal but the striker turned Alba with an elegant piece of skill before stroking a fine finish that beat Neto to his left.

Rakitic sold Joe Willock a marvellous dummy and played Antoine Griezmann in for a sublime dink over Leno, but the offside flag was raised and the first half ended with Arsenal ahead.

Ousmane Dembele blasted wide from the edge of the box early in the second half and Willock cleared a Jordi Alba effort off the line before Maitland-Niles' nightmare moment arrived.

The 21-year-old received a loose ball in his own box and tried to play a simple back-pass to Leno but over-hit it to the goalkeeper's left, and neither Leno nor Sokratis Papastathopoulos could backpedal quick enough to keep it from trickling into the net.

Gabriel Martinelli volleyed wide as Arsenal tried to muster a response but Suarez, on as a second-half substitute, timed his run perfectly and met Sergi Roberto's floated pass with a flying volley beyond Leno shortly before the final whistle.

Manchester United could end up with not one but two Juventus attackers by the end of the transfer window.

Heavily linked to Paulo Dybala as they look to sell Romelu Lukaku, Mario Mandzukic has emerged as another target for the Red Devils.

It is going to be a busy couple of days, with the Premier League window set to slam shut on August 8.

 

TOP STORY – MANDUZKIC TO FOLLOW DYBALA TO OLD TRAFFORD?

Growing reports suggest Juventus pair Mandzukic and Dybala are being pushed to join Manchester United.

United striker Lukaku has agreed a €9million salary with Juventus, according to Goal, as the Red Devils look to sign Dybala in exchange.

Dybala is reportedly demanding €12m to make the move to Manchester, with the deal hinging on the Argentina international swapping Turin for Old Trafford.

Tuttosport, Goal and other outlets are also claiming Mandzukic has been discussed with United, in what would be a separate transfer.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to The Sun, Manchester City have set Leroy Sane's asking price at €158m (£145m) as Bayern Munich look to sign the Germany international.

Real Madrid are seriously considering a move for Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek, Marca reports. Manchester United star Paul Pogba has emerged as a key target for Madrid. However, Zinedine Zidane's side are eyeing a €60m bid for Van de Beek.

- Champions League holders Liverpool are pondering a bid for Bordeaux forward Francois Kamano as Jurgen Klopp looks to add depth to his attacking options, according to The Sun.

- The Sun also reports that Arsenal have been put off by West Ham's £60m valuation of defender Issa Diop, who has also been linked to Manchester United. Arsenal have already signed William Saliba but the teenage defender has been loaned back to Saint-Etienne for the 2019-20 campaign.

Radamel Falcao will not be leaving Monaco for Turkish side Galatasaray, according to Fabrizio Romano. The 33-year-old has been hampered by injuries since moving to Monaco in 2013.

- ESPN FC says Manchester United and Leicester City are £15m apart in their valuation of centre-back Harry Maguire. In one of the most drawn-out transfer sagas this off-season, United have been tipped to sign Maguire in a world-record transfer for a defender, however, the England international is yet to arrive at Old Trafford. The Red Devils are reportedly offering £70m plus add-ons, while Leicester want £85m plus add-ons.

Juventus and Marseille have made offers for Barcelona left-back Juan Miranda, claims Sport. Juve reportedly want the 19-year-old on a permanent deal, while Marseille are open to bringing him to Ligue 1 on loan.

- As Lukaku nears a switch to Juventus, FCInterNews says Inter have turned to Atalanta's Duvan Zapata. The Colombia forward, who scored 28 goals in all competitions last season, is valued at €60m and Inter are willing to include Matteo Politano in exchange.

Nicolas Pepe outperformed standards set by Eden Hazard at Lille and the hard data suggests Arsenal have snared a worthy Premier League heir to the brilliant Belgian.

The Gunners fought off competition from Napoli and others to sign Ivory Coast international Pepe for a reported £72million, completing the highly anticipated deal on Thursday.

It is an extreme outlay that could come to look like a savvy investment as Unai Emery adds further firepower to a fearsome front line.

Here, we dive into the Opta numbers to discover just why Arsenal have spent so big to secure the 24-year-old as their new record signing.

The complete attacking package

Comfortable playing on either flank or through the middle, Pepe is swiftly becoming a high-achieving model of the modern forward.

The former Angers player struck 14 times in all competitions during a breakthrough 2017-18 campaign before announcing his arrival into a higher echelon with a match-winning hat-trick away to Amiens in September.

That form continued throughout the season as Pepe's remarkable return of 22 goals lifted Lille from 17th to second in the space of 12 months.

And there is plenty more than pure goals for Arsenal fans to get excited about.

Pepe tallied the second most assists in Ligue 1 last season with 11. For new team-mates Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, that is a figure worth fawning over. 

Indeed, across Europe's top five leagues in 2018-19, only Lionel Messi (49), Kylian Mbappe (40) and Fabio Quagliarella (34) surpassed Pepe's combined number of goals and assists (33).

For comparison, Real Madrid's freshly minted Galactico Hazard managed 31.

King of the counter

Emery's men will be tough to catch in the Premier League this season - at least as far as their fleet-footed forwards are concerned.

Aubameyang and Lacazette alone present enough headaches for defences wishing to push high up the pitch and adding Pepe to the equation significantly increases Arsenal's threat on the counter.

The new man scored six goals and attempted 15 shots from fast breaks last season, second in both categories in the big five leagues to Paris Saint-Germain star Mbappe.

Pepe's ability to breeze past defenders and be first to loose balls also saw him win five penalties - one behind Wilfried Zaha's six - and 108 fouls, the most in Ligue 1.

Ex-Chelsea talisman Hazard was fouled 104 times during his final season in the Premier League.

Ice cool from the spot

There was agony for Aubameyang in March when he failed to beat Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris from the spot with a golden late chance to win the north London derby at Wembley.

Such frustration might become a thing of the past.

Along with being a prolific penalty winner, Pepe converted nine spot-kicks last season, ranking him second to nerveless Crystal Palace midfielder Luka Milivojevic (10) across the top five leagues in Europe.

Among that number was a technically adept effort with the gaze of the Parc des Princes - including Gianluigi Buffon 12 yards away - trained in his direction.

Expectations at Emirates Stadium are bound to be high, but Pepe appears to have the temperament and skill set to make this new, potentially career-making move a resounding success.

Arsenal's £72million signing of in-demand forward Nicolas Pepe not only smashed the club's transfer record but also represented a statement of intent.

The Gunners have not won the Premier League since 2004 but will be hopeful the arrival of Pepe can help them bridge the gap between themselves and the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool.

The 24-year-old Ivory Coast international dazzled in Ligue 1 last term, scoring 22 goals in 38 appearances and adding a host of assists as Lille finished second.

Pepe's capture should ensure Arsenal, who can already call upon the quality of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, are a constant attacking threat.

Aubameyang and Lacazette are indeed two of the names to feature on Arsenal's list of big-money signings and here we take a look at how those high-profile arrivals have fared.

 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (from Borussia Dortmund in 2018 for £56m)

The Gabon international has proved an astute signing, even at a significant cost, with 32 goals in his first 49 Premier League matches. The 30-year-old's speed causes major concern for opponents and he also scored eight goals in the Europa League last term as Arsenal reached the final.

Alexandre Lacazette (from Lyon in 2017 for £46.5m)

Lacazette's goalscoring ratio is far from bad – he has 27 in 69 Premier League appearances – but Arsenal may have hoped for more from a forward who netted 20 or more Ligue 1 goals in three successive seasons for Lyon. When paired together by Unai Emery, the Frenchman has worked very well with Aubameyang, with the addition of Pepe into the mix sure to bring another dimension to Arsenal's play.

Mesut Ozil (from Real Madrid in 2013 for £42.4m)

After joining Arsenal to great fanfare, Ozil has often failed to live up to his hefty price tag and has not re-captured the sort of form he displayed on a regular basis with Real Madrid. He has still been effective at times but has struggled to consistently stay fit, making more than 25 Premier League appearances in just two of his five full seasons at the club. 

Shkodran Mustafi (from Valencia in 2016 for a fee in excess of £35m)

Arsenal made a significant investment to lure Mustafi away from Spain, but he has proven a disappointment in London. The 27-year-old has declined significantly in recent years and his error-prone nature does not fill supporters with confidence. According to reports, Arsenal are in talks with several clubs regarding Mustafi's future. A move away would not exactly come as a surprise.

Granit Xhaka (from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2016 for £35m)

Still only 26, Xhaka's best football should be in front of him. The tough-tackling midfielder's arrival was meant to herald an improvement in Arsenal's defence but the club have still leaked goals on a regular basis. The jury is still out on this one. 

Alexis Sanchez (from Barcelona in 2014 for a reported fee in the region of £35m)

Sanchez was a hit with the Arsenal faithful, scoring 60 goals in 122 Premier League matches. The club's supporters were disappointed to see him opt for a switch to Manchester United in January 2018 in a swap deal that brought Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Emirates Stadium. Sanchez's move north has been an unmitigated disaster so far, the striker on an eye-watering pay packet at Old Trafford but responsible for just three Premier League goals.

Arsenal have announced the signing of Lille forward Nicolas Pepe in a club-record deal reported to be worth £72million (£80m).

Pepe was linked with Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli and Champions League winners Liverpool after a breakthrough 2018-19 season.

The Ivory Coast attacker scored 22 Ligue 1 goals last term and supplied 11 assists to catch the eye of Europe's elite clubs.

But it is Arsenal who have landed the 24-year-old, who eclipses Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the club's record signing.

"Nicolas is a highly-rated and talented winger who was wanted by many of the top teams in Europe," Gunners head coach Unai Emery told his club's official website.
 
"Signing a top-class winger has been one of our key objectives in this transfer window and I'm delighted he's joining.
 
"He will add pace, power and creativity, with the aim of bringing more goals to our team."

Pepe's capture is a coup for Arsenal, given they failed to qualify for the Champions League last term and he is their fourth addition ahead of 2019-20.

After Brazilian youngster Gabriel Martinelli signed earlier in the close season, Dani Ceballos joined on loan from Real Madrid and William Saliba signed from Saint-Etienne, although the defender will remain in Ligue 1 on loan this season.

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