Chelsea are reportedly plotting a summer move for in-demand Lille winger Nicolas Pepe as a potential replacement for Real Madrid target Eden Hazard.
According to The Mirror, Chelsea have made peace with the fact that they might lose Eden Hazard in the summer amid widespread interest from Real Madrid. The Blues are now plotting a move for in-demand Lille winger Nicolas Pepe to replace the Belgian international.
Nicolas Pepe has had quite a career at Lille since joining from fellow French club Angers in the summer of 2017. His maiden season was decent but the 2018-19 campaign has set him apart from a good player to a great one, with a return of 19 goals and 13 assists in Ligue 1 so far.
Pepe has been linked with quite a few clubs recently. Bayern Munich have been thought to be favourites to land the 23-year-old according to recent reports. The Bavarians have to replace Arjen Robben, who is set to leave this summer, and Franck Ribery, with age catching up to the dynamic duo of Bayern.
Arsenal were linked with the winger as well. Unai Emery wants to add natural wingers to the squad and has been shortlisting players, with Ryan Fraser and Moussa Dembele a couple of names that have come up. Pepe will be an ideal signing, with the 23-year-old’s direct gameplay likely to give Arsenal another avenue to punish the opposition.
Chelsea though, have come into the picture. Eden Hazard has been linked with a summer exit, with Real Madrid the choice of destination, according to reports. With Zinedine Zidane at the helm once again, Hazard could be heading to the Bernabeu in the summer.
While Chelsea have a transfer ban to tackle as well, the Blues are silently confident of sneaking in one window for transfers and are looking to replace Hazard with Pepe, who is valued at around £70 million by Lille.
Pepe chose to stay put in January to aid Lille’s league campaign, with the club now primed for Champions League football in the coming campaign. The 23-year-old has made his intentions to leave clear to the club, who will not stand in the star’s way, should the suitors lodge a respectable bid.
The fights that Chelsea will have in their hands are the potential of the transfer ban blocking the move and their potential inability to qualify for Champions League football for the coming season, which could see Pepe drift more towards Bayern Munich, Arsenal or some other club, with even Lille able to provide Champions League football in the coming season.
Pepe could be enticed with the club’s stature and Chelsea will hope they are allowed to sign players, especially in case Eden Hazard makes up his mind to leave for Real Madrid. One way or another, Lille are likely to be £70 million richer in the summer.