By 90Min
August 11, 2019

A former coach of Nicolas Pepe has revealed that the winger began his career as a goalkeeper, only moving outfield as late as his teenage years.

The Gunners' club-record signing was one of Europe's hottest properties over the summer after a stunning campaign for Lille saw him score 22 goals and register 11 assists as his side finished runners-up in Ligue 1.

Firmly on the radar of major European sides for his exploits as a wide forward, the Ivorian's former coach at Solitaires, Tandjigora Mahamadou, told Le Parisien (via the Mail) that the pacy winger started life between the sticks before making the move into outfield later in his career.

"When you needed goals, he finished the game in the field," he said. "I remember a Under-13 tournament. He had finished as the best player and best goalkeeper. It was crazy!"

Adopting the unusual route of starting in goal, Pepe wore the gloves for the entirety of his playing career until his 13th birthday, with a move to Paris Saint-Germain (as a goalkeeper) failing to materialise after they deemed him too small.

Instead, the 24-year-old has gone on to become Arsenal's most expensive ever player after putting pen to paper on a deal that will be eventually cost the Premier League side £72m.

PASCAL GUYOT/GettyImages

Whether Pepe is in line for his Gunners debut is not yet known, with the player having had an extended holiday following his country's exploits in the African Cup of Nations, and concerns remaining over his match fitness.

Unai Emery's side kick off their season on Sunday with a trip to the northeast to face Newcastle at St James' Park.

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)