Arsenal are reportedly interested in LOSC Lille star Nicolas Pepe but find themselves in the midst of a four-way battle to land the young winger.
Nicolas Pepe is a wanted man. The LOSC Lille star has been garnering rave reviews for his performances over the last one-and-a-half year or so. It seems Arsenal are interested in the youngster, but so are the likes of Real Betis, Sevilla and Lyon, with The Mirror citing French publication L’Equipe as the source.
23-year-old Pepe first made a name for himself while playing Ligue 2 football for the likes of Angers and US Orleans. LOSC Lille decided to sign the winger in the summer of 2017 on the back of his maiden Ligue 1 campaign, representing Angers. But, no one had envisaged the winger to make such an impact and raise his level so much and at such a blistering rate.
The 2017-18 season saw Pepe record a return of 13 goals and 5 assists in the league, with the youngster establishing himself not just as a key player at Lille but also as one of the prolific wingers in Europe. The interest in him had arrived straight after the 2017-18 campaign.
Reports have revealed that Southampton had a £12.5 million bid rejected for the 23-year-old in the summer. Pepe has started the new season where he left things off in May, something which is starting to attract more clubs. With a goal and 3 assists in 4 league games, the likes of Arsenal, Sevilla, Real Betis and Lyon are all rumoured to be keeping tabs on the winger.
As far as Arsenal are concerned, Unai Emery has strengthened the defence and midfield. But, one area that still concerns pundits and fans alike, is the lack of out-and-out wingers within the squad. Even if Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi can be considered as wingers, there is no one to hug the byline and stretch the opposition defence.
A January move for Nicolas Pepe might develop, with LOSC Lille not involved in European competitions, having escaped relegation in the 2017-18 season by a narrow margin.
Arsenal will also benefit from the fact that they will not only present Pepe with the ability to play for trophies along with the lure of European football, but also provide the 23-year-old with a climb up the proverbial footballing chain.
But, bagging Pepe will be a tall order. The report indicates that, apart from Southampton, LOSC Lille received a £35 million bid from an unnamed club, which was also rejected. Thus, the Gunners will have to stump up a considerable amount in order to land the 23-year-old.
Nicolas Pepe looks like a player that is on the up-and-up, like many other promising Ligue 1 stars. It will be interesting to see if clubs come swooping in when the winter transfer window arrives.