Real Madrid are reportedly eyeing an €80 million move for Lille superstar Nicolas Pepe, who has also been heavily linked with Arsenal.
If a report by Spanish publication Don Balon is to be believed, Real Madrid are the latest club to have emerged in pursuit of Nicolas Pepe. The LOSC Lille attacker, who is also the subject of interest from Arsenal, is being eyed by Los Blancos as the long-term successor to Karim Benzema.
Nicolas Pepe is a player who is starting to become a household name beyond France, where he has been in sumptuous form for LOSC Lille. After a promising maiden campaign at Stade Pierre-Mauroy, the player has come into his own this season with some dazzling displays.
With 12 goals and 7 assists in 19 Ligue 1 appearances, the 23-year-old has been the joint-most prolific player in the French top-flight, alongside Kylian Mbappe. And, with numbers similar to a player like Mbappe, Pepe has unsurprisingly attracted the attention of some of the biggest clubs in the world, the latest being Real Madrid, who have joined Arsenal in his pursuit.
Arsenal hold a long-standing interest in Pepe, and for good reason. While only Manchester City have been more prolific than the Gunners in the Premier League this season, Unai Emery still has a few holes left to be plugged in his squad, particularly the lack of a natural winger in the squad.
Emery has indeed had to bank on the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck to man the wide areas. Nicolas Pepe is thus, a viable target for Arsenal, who now have Real Madrid for company in the race to sign him.
Unlike the Gunners though, Real Madrid are looking at Pepe as a possible successor to Karim Benzema. The French striker may have found a second wind after two years of struggle. But, the fact remains that he is nearing the end of his time at the Bernabeu in a few years.
The need to sign a long-term successor has thus, accentuated for Real Madrid, especially seeing as summer signing Mariano Diaz has only been used as a bit-part player thus far. And, while the striker’s role is exactly his primary position, the player has previously been deployed as the focal point of attack, and could be groomed by Benzema for the slot.
Real Madrid will also fancy their chances of beating Arsenal to Pepe’s signature, with Lille slapping an €80 million price tag on him. The Premier League heavyweights are known to be operating on a stringent budget, and might look to negotiate the price to a more agreeable valuation.
Real Madrid though, are unlikely to have any qualms shelling out the amount to land Pepe. A transfer battle seems to be brewing in pursuit of the 23-year-old, and it remains to be seen if the European champions can secure the services of a player who can serve various roles for them, or if Arsenal have their say instead.