The Standard revealed yesterday that Arsenal are battling fellow English sides Tottenham and Manchester United in the race to sign Lille star Zeki Celik this summer.
The Gunners will need a new right-back as it looks like Hector Bellerin will be leaving the club in the coming weeks. The likes of Emerson Royal, Max Aarons and Tariq Lamptey have all been linked, but Celik is definitely the man we should be going for.
The Turk, still only 24, has been brilliant for Lille over the last few years. He is excellent defensively and is not too bad on the attack either, having scored five goals and provided 11 assists in all competitions in the last three seasons.
Apart from being a massive upgrade on Bellerin at right-back, Celik will surely bring the best out of one Arsenal player if we manage to sign him this summer.
Zeki Celik will unleash Nicolas Pepe at Arsenal
The Ivorian is on the good side of the media after a strong end to the season, but he was constantly targeted beforehand. Even club legend Ian Wright had a go at Pepe in January, labelling his performance against Newcastle United as ‘very, very poor‘.
One of the biggest reasons why Pepe has received a ton of criticism is his mammoth price tag. Arsenal forked out a club record £72 million for the Ivorian back in 2019, and every one of his performances was judged on that fee.
That really isn’t fair on Pepe but it is what it is. People are quick to say now that Arsenal overpaid for him two years ago, but his stunning 2018/2019 season for Lille is forgotten by many.
Pepe scored 23 goals and provided 12 assists for Les Dogues in his final season there. Only Kylian Mbappe scored more than the Ivorian in Ligue 1 that season, which shows just how incredible he was back then.
The now 26-year-old was absolutely unstoppable for Lille that year. Mikel Arteta would love nothing more than to see Pepe do that for Arsenal next season, and Celik may just be the key to unlock the Ivorian.
Celik helped Pepe become the best right-winger in Ligue 1
We’ve all seen how effective Pepe can be when the right-back playing behind him rushes forward to support him. Bellerin chose not to do that on multiple occasions this season and that made the Ivorian look bad.
Celik, however, knows Pepe really well. The pair combined brilliantly for Lille in the 2018/19 season, and if they can be teamed up at Arsenal this summer, there’s no reason why history can’t repeat itself.
A Celik-Pepe right-side would make Arsenal’s attack one of the most dangerous in the league next season. Edu and Arteta are right to target the Turk this summer and the fact that he will be available for just £13 million makes this a deal we simply must complete.