Barcelona have reportedly joined Arsenal in the race to sign Nicolas Pepe from Lille, who have slapped a £60 million price tag on the Ivorian winger.
According to a report by Daily Mirror, Barcelona have emerged as the latest suitors in pursuit of Nicolas Pepe, ahead of a possible swoop in the summer transfer window. The Ivory Coast international is also the subject of interest from Arsenal, with Lille looking to recoup £60 million in exchange of his services.
Nicolas Pepe joined Lille from Angers in the summer of 2017, but largely went unnoticed during a decent maiden campaign at the club. The dreaded second season syndrome has not struck for the player, who has been one of the standout players in Ligue 1 this term.
In 25 outings in the French league, the 23-year-old has a strong record of 16 goals and 10 assists, making him one of the most prolific players, not just in France, but across Europe. And, Pepe’s exploits have not gone unnoticed, with Arsenal and Barcelona keeping a keen eye on his progress.
Arsenal, in fact hold a long-standing interest in the pacy winger, having also been eager to snap him up in the January transfer window. The interest from the Gunners is pretty straightforward, with none of the players in Unai Emery’s squad being natural wingers.
As a result, the Arsenal boss has been forced to deploy the likes of Alex Iwobi, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the wide areas, with none of the players managing to create a consistent impact from the flanks. Pepe is thus, a viable target for the North Londoners, who now face competition from Barcelona for his signature.
As far as the La Liga champions are concerned, the interest in Pepe could perhaps, be stemming from the fact that Luis Suarez has not been at his best since the turn of the year. Ernesto Valverde is thus, in a spot of bother, with Barcelona’s January signing Kevin-Prince Boateng not impressing much either.
While Pepe is primarily a winger, he has also shown the tendency to play as a striker, which makes him an interesting prospect for Barcelona. And, the Blaugrana and Arsenal might fancy their chances of landing the pacy 23-year-old in the wake of comments from Lille manager Christophe Galtier, who has said that the player is ready to take the next step and join one of the best clubs in Europe (h/t Goal).
But, Pepe will not come cheap, with the report suggesting that Lille will demand £60 million in exchange for his services. It will be interesting to see if Arsenal are open to shelling out the amount, having been operating on a limited budget lately. It remains to be seen if the Gunners or Barcelona are able to land the 23-year-old in the summer.