Football News

“There will be a battle between the great European teams” – Lille confirm Pepe’s future

By Ben Green

Published: 16:45, 20 May 2019

Lille manager Christophe Galtier has announced highly-coveted winger Nicolas Pepe will join one of Europe’s elite clubs this summer.  

Pepe, 23, has proven a revelation in Ligue 1 this term, scoring 22 goals and recording 11 assists as Les Dogues placed second in the French top-flight.

Could Pepe leave Lille? Five key things to know…

  1. The in-demand Ivorian has impressed with his exploits at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in 2018/19, sparking interest from around the continent.
  2. Last month Lille chairman Gerard Lopez resigned himself to losing his prize asset this summer.
  3. Among the names being bandied about are Arsenal, with club legend Robert Pires urging the Gunners in April to pull out all the stops to sign him.
  4. Pepe has also seen his name associated with a string of European powerhouses, including Manchester United, PSG and Liverpool.
  5. His next destination may be unclear but his future at Lille is certainly over after manager Galtier confirmed his exit.

The Ivorian winger was instrumental last campaign as his 13-goal haul helped keep Lille afloat in Ligue 1, while this season he has taken his game to much loftier heights, placing in the Team of the Year as a result.

His signature will likely cost a fee in the region of £69m, but that should not detract potential suitors, with a number of Europe’s top clubs set for a summer of spending, prompting a not-so-orderly queue to form for his services, according to Galtier.

In an interview with Canal+, as reported by the Express, Galtier said: “Nicolas Pepe will leave. Life’s like that, football’s like that today.

“He is a player of the highest level who will have a big decision to make on the choice of his next club.

“There will be a battle between the great European teams.

“I hope that he will take good amount of time to think about it, do his research.”

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Where could Pepe end up?

With a formidable goalscoring return in 2018/19, rumours have certainly been swirling about Pepe’s future, but will he be pitching up in the Premier League?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will no doubt be in the mix for his signature, with the Red Devils set for a summer overhaul as the Norwegian coach looks to rediscover his early tenure form.

However, one club who could go all out and land the Lille ace is PSG, with manager Thomas Tuchel recently adding fuel to the fire when quizzed on a potential move.

After the 23-year-old played a key role in Lille’s 5-1 mauling of the Parisians last month, the German said of Pepe: “Yes, he can play for us tomorrow. He can play with us for 70 minutes and then [Angel] Di Maria can come on!

“Pepe has a lot of quality with his speed and strength. He’s determined around goal and always dangerous.

“I don’t know his character and personality, but he’s a good player.”

With Kylian Mbappe recently casting doubt on his future in the French capital, the Parc des Princes club may be desperate for a new attacking outlet this summer.