Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 20 September 2019

Nicolas Pepe targets Europa League title and top four in debut Arsenal season

Pepe, 24, signed for Arsenal in a club record €79 million (Dh322m) deal from French side Lille during the summer

Nicolas Pepe believes Arsenal are capable of winning the Europa League this season. EPA
Nicolas Pepe believes Arsenal are capable of winning the Europa League this season. EPA

Ivory Coast winger Nicolas Pepe has set his sights on helping Arsenal win the Europa League and reclaiming a place in the Premier League's top four during his debut season.

Pepe, 24, signed for Arsenal in a club record €79 million (Dh322m) deal from French side Lille during the summer and has so far been limited to two substitute appearances as he adjusts to his new team.

His arrival headlined an active summer of player recruitment from Arsenal, who spent €150m on new players in an attempt to end their four-year absence from the Uefa Champions League.

To qualify for next season's competition, Arsenal can either finish in the top four places in the Premier League, or win the Europa League, and Pepe believes they can achieve both.

"I chose to come here because it's a club with a lot of ambition," Pepe told the Arsenal website. "They have the dream of coming back to the Champions League and I am also an ambitious person, so the choice was very logical.

"I am attracted to the Premier League because it is an extremely intense championship and the best league in the world. The idea is to win the Europa League and that is a goal of ours. It's a European event and our goal is to do better than last season. I believe we will."

Pepe said that he is trying to get up to speed as quickly as possible, both with his new team and life in England, and has credited manager Unai Emery for helping him settle.

"It's been really good because he speaks French and it has been much easier for us to communicate," he said.

"I am new, the strategy and tactics are new and it really helps that I can get the coach's assistance. Now I need to learn English and this is something he is helping me with also.

Pepe's ambitions are shared by Arsenal director Josh Kroenke, who revealed in an interview with the BBC that the club are prepared to be "proactive" in the January transfer market to help them achieve their Champions League goals.

"Our ambitions are the same as the fans. We want to win and we want to win as much and as often as possible," Kroenke said. "And doing it in a fun way, where they’re seeing some really entertaining football as well. I think we’ve got the group to do it.

"As for January, I don't want to get ahead of ourselves. We’ve got to evaluate some things in the short term and figure out where we might need to address areas going forward, so when January does roll around we’re going to be proactive again."

Updated: August 21, 2019 08:09 AM

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