Arsenal are in the final battle to sign this breakout star, the talented attacker established himself as one of Europe’s best with his fine displays last season.
According to French outlet Le 10 Sport, Arsenal and Napoli are leading the race to sign Lille star Nicolas Pepe, it’s understood that Inter Milan and Manchester United are also interested in the Ivorian, however, Lille have only received concrete offers from the Gunners and the Azzurri.
As per the report, Arsenal’s offer for the 24-year-old is reportedly in the region of €80m (£72m), whilst Napoli’s bid is thought to be worth an initial €60m with an additional €20m in bonuses. Carlo Ancelotti’s side do have a potential sweetener up their sleeves though, it’s understood that Lille are interested in Napoli star Adam Ounas – a move for the Algerian would be separate to a deal for Pepe though.
The report highlights that Pepe is yet to decide on which club he’d like to join, but Lille are hoping that the star can seal a move next week.
It will be surprising to see Arsenal complete a swoop for Pepe, given their reported tight transfer budget, as per The Sun, Unai Emery only has £45m to spend this summer – although this doesn’t include funds raised through player sales.
Pepe was instrumental for Lille as they defied the odds to finish second in Ligue 1, the Ex-Angers ace managed to score 22 league goals and provide 11 assists to his teammates last season. In his entire career, Pepe has managed to score 52 goals for club and country.
Emery has a massive rebuild on his hands this summer and two key areas that the Spaniard needs to improve are up front and in the wide areas – Pepe has shown that he has the talents to play as a central striker or as a winger.
As Arsenal already have a superstar strike duo of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, one would expect Pepe to be utilised on the wing for the Gunners. The north London club currently only have two quality natural wide players in their ranks; academy graduates Alex Iwobi and Reiss Nelson.
Lacazette and Aubameyang were very impressive last season, but the addition of Pepe could help take Arsenal’s attack to a new level, the Ivorian showed last season that his impressive performances lead to an uplift in form for those around him.