Lille have put a huge price on star winger Nicolas Pepe’s head, with Arsenal thought to be the frontrunners in the race to secure his services.
According to the Daily Mirror, Lille president Gerard Lopez is unwilling to listen to any offers below his €80 million asking price for Pepe, as he told Canal Plus at the start of the week.
“That does not just depend on the club,” Lopez began – as per the Mirror. “It also depends on the player. He deserves to play at the highest level. We have offers yes.
“In England, there are clubs. We have had offers worth €50m. We will not sell for less, we have even refused a €50m bid.
“We had an offer from China worth €80m with an astronomical salary, but he didn’t want to go.”
The Ivorian superstar has scored 16 goals in 27 games for Lille this term, emerging as one of Europe’s brightest young prospects and attracting a number of potential suitors.
Pepe is the ideal fit for Arsenal given their pressing need to strengthen on the right-hand side and they have been monitoring the 23-year-old’s progress in Ligue 1 for much of the 2018-19 campaign.
Unfortunately for Gunners supporters, this latest news all but rules their club out of the running to sign Pepe, with Unai Emery unlikely to be granted the funds to sanction a deal during the summer window.
The Mirror reports that Arsenal are unable to spend big money on players after only chasing loan deals during the January market, with Barcelona’s Denis Saurez their only winter signing on a six-month deal from Barcelona.
Pepe’s value will probably only increase in the coming months and unless Arsenal officials decide to loosen the purse strings, he may have to look elsewhere for the next step forward in his career.