Manchester United have reportedly made an approach for Ivory Coast and Lille attacker Nicolas Pepe, who is also on the radar of arch rivals Liverpool.
According to a report from Yahoo Sport France, as carried by the Mirror, Manchester United have launched an offer to sign Lille star Nicolas Pepe, who is also a reported target for bitter rivals and reigning European champions Liverpool. However, their approach has been met with a rejection from the Ligue 1 outfit.
Pepe has emerged as one of the hottest commodities of this transfer window after a sensational 2018-19 campaign. The 24-year-old bagged 23 goals and set up 12 more in 41 matches across all competitions, helping Lille to a second-place finish in Ligue 1. Pepe’s exploits with Lille has seen him attract serious interest from all quarters in Europe.
The likes of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid have all been linked with the Ivorian at some point of time, but most of the interest has been stemming from the Premier League, with Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United all monitoring the forward. Arsenal though, have shifted their focus towards Wilfried Zaha, leaving Liverpool and United battling for his signature.
Liverpool had a spectacular season last time out, winning the Champions League and missing out on the Premier League crown by just a point. But, in order to knock Manchester City off their perch, the Reds need to make some signings in the ongoing window, with attack being an area that could do use some strengthening.
In Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, Liverpool have a brilliant attacking trident, but there is little in terms of quality backup to the trio. Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri are solid options, but adding someone of Pepe’s quality would take Jurgen Klopp’s side to a whole new level, which explains their interest in the 24-year-old.
However, Manchester United are also in the running to sign Pepe from Lille. The Red Devils have lacked a natural right-sided winger for years now and while manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has tried using academy product Mason Greenwood and new signing Daniel James in that position, someone like Pepe would offer a quality solution.
Moreover, with Romelu Lukaku’s proposed switch to Inter Milan, signing the Ivorian would address that problem as well, as he performed admirably playing in a central role for Lille last time out. To that end, Manchester United are believed to have submitted an offer for the 24-year-old and while there is no mention of the amount that United offered, Lille have reportedly knocked back the bid.
Lille are holding out for a transfer fee in the region of £70 million and club president Gerard Lopez did hint recently that Pepe is closing in on an exit this summer. “For Nico, it is almost done and he could have left last summer. It is true that there are big offers and big clubs in for him, so I think (he will leave),” Lopez said recently.
While it seems a given that Pepe will leave Lille this summer, it remains to be seen if he joins Manchester United. With just a little over two weeks left before the English transfer window shuts down, it will be interesting to see if the Red Devils come up with an improved offer.