During the winter transfer window, there were rumours flying about that Arsenal were interested in signing Lille winger/attacker Nicolas Pepe. Although nothing materialised from the rumours, if media reports are anything to go by, Arsenal are still interested in signing the highly rated attacker who is said to be attracting interest from Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Juventus as well.
The Gunners have however been given a boost in their chase for the highly rated and very prolific attacker as Lille manager Christophe Galtier claims the player is ready to take the step up. This to me would mean an indication that the French club will not stand in the way of the France born Ivory Coast international.
‘Nicolas Pepe is having a great season and he will continue to improve.
‘He has to go to a Champions League club. In my opinion, he does not need an intermediate step to go as high as possible.’
From all indication Lille knows they can no longer stop the player from leaving the club. The only problem Arsenal are now likely to have is whether the player will choose Arsenal ahead of the other clubs who he has been linked with. It is doubtful that any player would drop the chance to player for Bayern Munich, Juventus and Real Madrid for a chance to play for Arsenal.
Come the summer transfer window, Arsenal are unlikely to be the bookmakers’ favourite for the signature of Pepe especially if the big guns are still being linked with him but we signed Ozil when no one thought we would.
Having said that, we cannot totally rule out joining Arsenal in the summer if Emery really wants him. If Arsenal manages to qualify for the UCL, the club could let Emery spend more money. And aside that, Pepe see the Gunners as a stepping stone for him. It is sad but Arsenal is currently not in the leagues of the likes of Juventus, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid and if any player signs for us ahead of the aforementioned clubs, it is mostly likely because they see us as a stepping stone or because they feel they have no chance of regular playing time with the other clubs.
Another thing that could be a stumbling block for Arsenal is the reported Lille asking price of £60 million ($78m). Arsenal are unlikely to be ready to pay that much for the player. And rightly so. Although Pepe has done well for Lille so far this season having scored over 20 goals as of the time of writing this article, he could well flop in the Premier league and Arsenal will do well to look else while if Lille insists on £60 million ($78m) asking price.