Transfer battle: Liverpool face competition from arch-rivals in pursuit of £59m star

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Everton have reportedly joined the race to sign highly-rated Lille attacker Nicolas Pepe, who has long been a rumoured target for Liverpool.

The 24-year-old was superb for Lille in Ligue 1 last season, hitting 22 goals and laying on 12 assists in 38 appearances to help the team finish second in the final standings.

The Ivory Coast international has been touted for a lucrative summer transfer, with a whole host of top European clubs thought to be vying for his signature.

According to the Telegraph, Liverpool are among Pepe’s long line of potential suitors, but they are now facing competition from arch-rivals Everton in pursuit of the mercurial star.

Toffees boss wants Marco Silva wants to bring in a left-footed player who can cut in from the right-hand side, as he targets a place in the Premier League’s top six next season.

However, the Telegraph reports that Pepe is currently valued at around £59 million and Everton would have to break their transfer record to match that valuation.

Nicolas Pepe in action for Lilleshaq

Liverpool could still push a deal for the Ivorian over the line if they decide to launch an official bid, but Jurgen Klopp has been very quiet in the summer market so far.

That could all change after Xherdan Shaqiri’s calf tear, which is set to rule him out of the club’s pre-season fixtures, adding to selection headache which the German boss may have to address.

Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah are all set to return to Liverpool late after international tournaments and thusly, Klopp may have to field a makeshift starting XI for the 2019-20 season opener against Norwich on August 9.

Signing Pepe would certainly give Liverpool another high-quality option while certain players regain full fitness, but at the moment Everton are well placed to secure a deal ahead of their Merseyside neighbours.

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