Arsenal and Manchester United have been placed on red alert after Ligue 1 high flyers Lille admitted they may be powerless to stop Nicolas Pépé leaving the club this summer. The 23-year-old has burst onto the scene with 16 goals and ten assists in his 25 league appearances, scoring at an impressive ratio of a goal every 145 minutes played. The Ivory Coast international’s exploits have fired Les Dogues to second in the Ligue 1 table, but have also attracted a considerable amount of interest from a host of top European clubs – with football.london reporting that his rumoured €80m price tag will not deter the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich or Barcelona.
It now appears that the club are resigned to losing their star man if a significant bid comes in, with sporting director Luis Campo admitting to French publication Telefoot that finances will dictate whether Pepe leaves the club.
“We are not a rich club,” Campo said. “It means that if a really good proposal comes in for Pépé, we have to sell him.”His comments follow on from manager Christophe Galtier’s admission that the young sensation is destined for the top of the game, having compared his prized asset to Bayern Munich duo Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, as well as Real Madrid superstar Karim Benzema. “I was lucky enough to work with Karim Benzema at Lyon. He was much younger. Karim is a natural talent. But Nicolas is also a natural talent, yes,” Galtier said, in quotes carried by Ligue 1’s official website.
“He has the athletic qualities that a modern top-level footballer needs: speed, penetration, the capacity to maintain intensity in his running and his sprints, he is robust, and he has a very good left foot.””He makes me think a lot about the two wide players who play at Bayern Munich every season. He’s left-footed, [Arjen] Robben when he was younger had that capacity to cut inside, eliminate defenders and finish very well. Franck Ribery is right footed, and also had that capacity to play on the flank and cut inside on to his good foot, he’s that kind of player.” Pépé’s future may be uncertain for now, but it’s unlikely he will be short of options should he, and Lille, decide his long-term future lies elsewhere.