Who is Nicolas Pepe: Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United transfer target’s stats, position and goals for Lille
Nicolas Pepe is set to become one of Europe’s most in demand footballers when the summer transfer window opens.
The 23-year-old has taken Ligue 1 by storm this season, netting 19 times and providing 11 assists in 32 games to catch the eye of several top clubs.
Liverpool are reportedly leading the chase for his signature, with Premier League rivals Arsenal, Manchester United and Everton also interested.
Lille look set to finish second in the French top flight, thanks largely to the form of Pepe, and the club are already resigned to the prospect of losing him this summer.
Club president Gerard Lopez recently told Telefoot: “Four or five players will be leaving this summer.
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“All clubs are forced to balance their accounts except perhaps one. I would say yes, it is sure he [Pepe] will leave.
“He enters a price range that can no longer be paid. There is a career choice to make for him, I think he will have the choice.”
Here’s how the Ivory Coast international rose to such prominence.
Who is Nicolas Pepe?
The French-born Ivorian started his career in the lower leagues of French football before eventually earning a transfer to Angers in 2013.
His professional debut came in November 2014 – a 1-1 draw against Ajaccio in Ligue 2. Pepe spent a year in the B team before he was loaned out to fellow French side US Orleans to aid his development.
When he returned to Angers, he became a first-team regular, making 33 Ligue 1 appearances in the 2016/17 campaign.
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His performances grabbed the attention of the Ivory Coast’s selectors, who gave him his first international cap in November 2016, and Lille were keeping tabs on him, too.
Pepe signed a five-year deal with Lille in the summer of 2017 for a reported £10m fee.
Since then, he has gone from strength-to-strength, quickly establishing himself as one of the most exciting players in France.
Earlier this season, he bagged a hat-trick in the 3-2 Ligue 1 away win over Amiens SC.
Pepe was the star of the show as Lille thrashed Paris Saint-Germain 5-1 earlier this month, notching a goal and two assists against the French champions.
Only PSG sensation Kylian Mbappe has more goals than him in Ligue 1 this season.
He’s a defender’s nightmare, with his pace, close control and directness causing them all sorts of problems.
“He amazes me, he amazes us,” his manager, Christoph Galtier said in February.
“He’s certain to become a world class player because he knows how to do everything. He doesn’t need an intermediate step. After the great season he’s having with us, he can go straight to a Champions League club.”
Source: SportsLatest TS