Real Madrid have reportedly expressed an interest in signing Lille and Ivory Coast forward Nicolas Pepe, who is also on the radars of Manchester United.
According to a report from The Sun, Manchester United’s chances of signing Lille star Nicolas Pepe may have taken a hit after Spanish heavyweights Real Madrid have entered the race to sign the Ivorian forward.
Pepe has emerged as one of the most sought-after players across Europe ahead of the summer transfer window, after what has been a sensational 2018-19 campaign for him. The 23-year-old has plundered 20 goals and assisted 11 more in 36 Ligue 1 matches, helping Lille to be on course for a second-place finish, while finishing only behind Kylian Mbappe in the scoring charts in the competition.
This kind of form has seen Pepe attract a lot of interest from a number of clubs across Europe, including Manchester United. The Red Devils are in for a major summer rebuild, with the right wing being one of the major areas that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is keen on strengthening.
Borussia Dortmund sensation Jadon Sancho was believed to Manchester United’s chief target. But, with the German giants refusing to do business, the 20-time English champions have turned their attention towards Pepe as they seek to improve on what has been a disastrous 2018-19 campaign.
However, their pursuit of the Lille attacker has now been complicated with Real Madrid also entering the chase. Zinedine Zidane’s side too endured quite a disappointing season last time out and are eyeing a squad overhaul ahead of the next term.
The attack is a major area of concern for Los Blancos, with no player stepping up this past term apart from top scorer Karim Benzema. Eden Hazard is set to sign for Real Madrid, but with Gareth Bale set to be on his way out and Lucas Vazquez disappointing as well, the right flank needs reinforcing and Zidane has demanded club president Florentino Perez sign Pepe, as per the report.
Pepe is contracted with Lille till the summer of 2022. But, the French outfit are resigned to losing him this summer and are hoping to recoup at least £45 million from his sale. The 23-year-old’s agent, Samit Khiat, also hinted towards an exit from the club, while also revealing that Bayern Munich too are interested.
“We are in discussions with clubs. No decision has been taken. Today, there are no favourites, be it Bayern Munich or another club. Nicolas will not go just anywhere. We have not decided on which league,” he told RTL, as quoted by The Sun.
With so many top clubs interested in signing him, a summer exit from Lille is definitely on the cards for Pepe. Manchester United are at a disadvantage in the race as they will be unable to offer Champions League football, which could sway the player’s decision against them. It remains to be seen if Pepe signs for the Red Devils or joins Real Madrid or ends up moving to a different club altogether.