Pépé playing for Lille in 2019
|Full name||Nicolas Pépé|
|Date of birth||29 May 1995|
|Place of birth||Mantes-la-Jolie, France|
|Height||1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|Playing position(s)||Winger, forward|
|Solitaire Paris Est|
|2015–2016||→ Orléans (loan)||29||(7)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 23:34, 17 October 2020 (UTC)|
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 13 October 2020
Pépé began his senior club career with Poitiers in the Championnat de France Amateur 2. He signed for Angers in 2013, aged 18, and spent a season on loan at Orléans in 2015. He signed for Lille in 2017, and was named to the UNFP Ligue 1 Team of the Year in the 2018–19 season. That summer, Pépé joined Arsenal for a club-record fee of £72 million, and won the FA Cup in his debut season.
Born in Mantes-la-Jolie, Île-de-France, Pépé grew up in the 19th arrondissement of Paris and started his career originally playing as a goalkeeper for local side Solitaire Paris Est until he was 14 years old. When his father Celestin, a prison guard, was transferred to Poitiers, Pépé began his senior career as an outfield player with Poitiers in the Championnat de France Amateur 2 (fifth tier) in 2012–13.
He signed for Angers in 2013, and spent his first season with the reserves in the CFA 2.
He made his professional debut in the second round of the Coupe de la Ligue in a 2–1 home loss to Arles-Avignon on 26 August 2014, as a 73rd-minute substitute for Yohann Eudeline. His first Ligue 2 match was on 21 November 2014, starting in a 1–1 Ligue 2 draw away to Ajaccio.
Pépé was loaned to Orléans for the 2015–16 Championnat National, and helped the club to promotion from the third tier as runners-up. He returned to an Angers side playing in Ligue 1 and which reached the 2017 Coupe de France Final, where he started in a 1–0 loss to Paris Saint-Germain at the Stade de France.
On 21 June 2017, Pépé signed a five-year deal with Lille, for a maximum transfer fee of €10 million, after being signed by head coach Marcelo Bielsa who had scouted the player by watching footage of every Ligue 1 game he had played in for Angers, before scouting him in person. Pépé described Bielsa as "special" and a "great coach". He started the season playing as a striker after being converted into playing the position under Bielsa, before finishing the season under the new Lille head coach Christophe Galtier, playing as a winger.
During the entirety of the 2017–18 Ligue 1 season, he was a regular in a Lille side that narrowly avoided relegation, missing only two games and scoring 13 times, including two apiece in away wins at Metz and Toulouse.
On 15 September 2018, during the 2018–19 Ligue 1 season, Pépé scored a hat-trick, including two penalties, in the 3–2 away win over Amiens. Days later, it was confirmed by club president Gérard Lopez that Barcelona were among several clubs that were interested in signing him. On 14 April 2019, Pépé scored a goal and provided two assists in the 5–1 home win over Paris Saint-Germain. He finished the 2018–19 Ligue 1 season with 22 goals, second only to PSG's Kylian Mbappé, with 11 assists, and was named in the UNFP Team of the Year.
On 1 August 2019, it was announced that Pépé had joined Premier League club Arsenal in a club-record fee of €79 million (£72 million), eclipsing the previous record of €62 million for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Upon signing for Arsenal, he was handed the number 19 shirt.
2019–20 season: Debut season and FA Cup win
Pépé made his Arsenal debut in a 1–0 away win over Newcastle United on 11 August, as a substitute for Reiss Nelson in the 71st minute. His first start for the club came two weeks later in a 3–1 loss to Liverpool, in which he played the full 90 minutes. Pépé scored his first Arsenal goal, in the team's 3–2 home win over Aston Villa. He converted a penalty to bring Arsenal level, following a foul on Mattéo Guendouzi, bringing the score to 1–1.
Pépé scored his first European goals in Arsenal's UEFA Europa League 3–2 home win over Vitória de Guimarães, netting a brace. Both of Pépé's goals came from free-kicks, one in the 80th minute with a curling effort from 25 yards, the second, a remarkable finish from just outside the penalty area, which flew beyond goalkeeper Miguel Silva in stoppage time, to give Arsenal the win and keep them top of Group F. On 9 December, Pépé scored his first goal from open play, receiving the ball from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, he cut inside onto his stronger left foot and curled a brilliant effort beyond West Ham United goalkeeper David Martin. Pépé then set up Arsenal's third, with a chipped ball into the penalty area, which Aubameyang subsequently converted.
On 1 January 2020, Pépé scored Arsenal's first goal in a 2–0 home victory over Manchester United, marking new head-coach Mikel Arteta's first win. On 16 February, Pépé scored again for Arsenal in the team's 4–0 win over Newcastle United. Pépé assisted the team's first goal, which was converted by Aubameyang and then doubled the team's tally after good work on the wing from Bukayo Saka and a near-post finish from Pépé. Pépé then capped off his performance with an assist for the team's fourth and final goal, setting up Alexandre Lacazette.
Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Premier League season was placed on hold. Arsenal's first game back was a 0–3 away loss to Manchester City on 17 June, which Pépé played no part in. Three days later, however, he returned to the team's starting eleven against Brighton & Hove Albion, in which he scored Arsenal's first goal since the restart, curling an effort past goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, however, Arsenal would go on to lose the game 2–1. On 28 June, Pépé scored his first FA Cup goal in a 2–1 away win against Sheffield United in the quarter-finals, giving Arsenal the lead in the 25th minute from the penalty spot.
On 1 August 2020, Pépé played the whole 90 minutes of the FA Cup Final match against Chelsea to win his first club trophy as an Arsenal player, contributing the assist for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's second goal.
Pépé scored his first goal of the new season in Arsenal's 2-1 win over Sheffield United. Pépé played a one-two with Héctor Bellerin before running thirty yards and slotting home the winning goal, which bounced in off the post.
Pépé was born in France to parents of Ivorian descent. He received a call up to the Ivory Coast national football team in November 2016, and was an unused substitute in the goalless draw away to Morocco in 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification on 12 November. He made his debut three days later in a friendly of the same score against his birth nation, France, at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis in Lens, playing the final four minutes in place of Max-Alain Gradel.
On 24 March 2018, in a friendly against Togo in France, Pépé scored his first international goals in the first half of a 2–2 draw. He followed it three days later, with another goal in a 2–1 win against Moldova in the same stadium.
Style of play
Pépé is known as a pacey and skilled attacking winger who is comfortable on both flanks, but usually plays on the right wing cutting onto his left foot; he was also converted by former Lille head coach Marcelo Bielsa to play as a striker.
|Club||Season||League||National Cup||League Cup||Continental||Other||Total|
|Orléans (loan)||2015–16||Championnat National||29||7||2||1||1||0||—||—||32||8|
- As of 13 October 2020
- Scores and results list Ivory Coast's goal tally first.
|1.||24 March 2018||Stade Pierre Brisson, Beauvais, France||Togo||1–0||2–2||Friendly|
|3.||27 March 2018||Moldova||2–0||2–1|
|4.||23 March 2019||Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny, Abidjan, Ivory Coast||Rwanda||1–0||3–0||2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification|
|5.||13 October 2019||Stade de la Licorne, Amiens, France||DR Congo||2–0||3–1||Friendly|
- UNFP Ligue 1 Team of the Year: 2018–19
- UNFP Ligue 1 Player of the Month: September 2018, January 2019
- Prix Marc-Vivien Foé: 2019
- Lille Player of the Season: 2018–19
- "Cote d'Ivoire" (PDF). Confederation of African Football. 15 June 2019. p. 7. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
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- Marsden, Sam (22 September 2018). "Barcelona interest in Nicolas Pepe confirmed by Lille president". ESPN. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
- "Nicolas Pepe completes move to Arsenal from Lille for club-record £72m". Sky Sports. 2 August 2019. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
- "Friendlies 2014–16 – France-Ivory Coast". UEFA. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
- "Lille's Nicolas Pepe credits goalkeeping experience for goalscoring form". Goal. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
- Holyman, Ian (1 August 2019). "Nicolas Pepe to Arsenal: Who is the £72m Gunners signing and how will he fit in?". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
- "AC Ajaccio vs. Angers SCO" (in French). Ligue de Football Professionnel. 21 November 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
- "Nicolas Pépé, le juvénile atout offensif du Sco" [Nicolas Pépé, SCO's young attacking asset]. Ouest-France (in French). 24 November 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
- "FOOTBALL L'ancien Poitevin Nicolas Pépé monte en Ligue 2 avec Orléans" [FOOTBALL Former Poitiers player Nicolas Pépé promoted to Ligue 2 with Orléans]. Centre-Presse (in French). 5 June 2016. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
- "Angers 0–1 Paris Saint Germain". BBC Sport. 27 May 2017. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
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- "Love at First Sight: How Nicolas Pepe Sent Europe's Top Clubs Weak at the Knees". Sky Sports. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
- Bairner, Robin (29 October 2019). "The French Connection: Nicolas Pepe – Europe's most wanted". Goal. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
- "LOSC: The confidences of Nicolas Pepe on Marcelo Bielsa". 10 Sport. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
- "Nicolas Pepe: All you need to know about Lille star linked with Arsenal". Sky Sports. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
- White, Adam; Devin, Eric (14 May 2018). "Lille have pulled off a miraculous escape from relegation – or have they?". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
- "Pepe hat-trick lifts Lille into second". Ligue 1. 15 September 2018. Archived from the original on 18 September 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
- "Brillant Lille blow away PSG". Ligue 1. 14 April 2019. Archived from the original on 15 April 2019. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
- "TROPHÉES UNFP 2019 : LE PALMARÈS COMPLET" (in French). LFP. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
- "#PepeIsHere | Nicolas Pepe becomes record signing". Arsenal F.C.
- "Newcastle United 0–1 Arsenalpublisher=BBC". 11 August 2019. Retrieved 1 September 2019.
- "Liverpool 3–1 Arsenal". BBC. 24 August 2019. Retrieved 1 September 2019.
- Ames, Nick (22 September 2019). "Aubameyang breaks Aston Villa hearts as 10-man Arsenal bounce back late on". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
- "Arsenal 3-2 Vitoria Guimaraes: Nicolas Pepe rescues Gunners in Europe". 24 October 2019 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- "West Ham 1-3 Arsenal: Gunners gain first win under Freddie Ljungberg". 9 December 2019 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- "Arsenal 2-0 Man Utd: Gunners secure first win under Mikel Arteta". 1 January 2020 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- "Arsenal 4-0 Newcastle: Gunners beat Magpies to end run of draws". 16 February 2020 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- "Brighton 2-1 Arsenal: Maupay stuns Gunners with late winner". 20 June 2020 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- "Sheffield United 1-2 Arsenal: Dani Ceballos' late goal sends Arsenal to FA Cup semis". 28 June 2020 – via www.bbc.com.
- "FA Cup final 2020: Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea - Aubameyang double secures victory". BBC Sport. 1 August 2020. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
- "Morocco 0–0 Côte d'Ivoire". FIFA. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
- "Afcon 2017: Wilfried Zaha in Ivory Coast's final squad". BBC Sport. 4 January 2017. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
- "Togo/Cote d'Ivoire: Amical – La difficile semaine des eléphants" [Togo/Ivory Coast: Friendly – The Elephants' difficult week] (in French). All Africa. 26 March 2018. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
- "Amical – La Côte d'Ivoire l'a emporté sur la Moldavie" [Friendly – The Ivory Coast swept past Moldova] (in French). Made in Foot. 28 March 2018. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
- Nicolas Pépé at Soccerway. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
- "Nicolas Pépé". ogol. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
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- Hytner, David (1 August 2020). "Aubameyang at the double as Arsenal turn tables on Chelsea to win FA Cup". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
- "NICOLAS PÉPÉ, JOUEUR DU MOIS DE SEPTEMBRE !" (in French). UNFP. 15 October 2018. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
- "NICOLAS PÉPÉ, JOUEUR DU MOIS DE JANVIER !" (in French). UNFP. 18 February 2019. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
- "Prix Marc-Vivien Foé 2019: le Lillois Nicolas Pépé plébiscité" (in French). Radio France Internationale. 19 May 2019.
- "Nicolas Pépé est le Dogue de la saison" (in French). Lille OSC. 15 May 2019. Retrieved 1 September 2019.[non-primary source needed]
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