Lille chairman Gerard Lopez has confirmed Arsenal and Bayern Munich target Nicolas Pepe will leave the club at the end of the season.
The 23-year-old has been a revelation in France this season, scoring 18 goals and providing nine assists in Ligue 1 so far.
Pepe’s Ligue 1 rise: Five key things to know…
- Pepe made a £9m move to Lille from fellow French side Angers in 2017.
- His 13 goals during his first season were key to Lille’s Ligue 1 survival.
- This season, he has taken his game to a new level with 18 goals and nine assists in the league to date.
- Pepe’s form has lifted Lille to second in Ligue 1 and drawn admiring glances from Europe’s biggest clubs.
- Lille chairman Lopez has resigned himself to losing his prize asset this summer.
This form has seen him linked with the likes of Arsenal, Bayern Munich, PSG and Manchester United and Lopez has admitted Pepe has now moved into a price bracket that Lille can no longer afford.
“It is certain, he will leave,” said Lopez. “He has moved into a price range that we can not afford anymore. There is a career choice to make for him, I think he will have the choice.”
Despite being second in Ligue 1, Lille are 20 points behind PSG, although they can delay Thomas Tuchel’s side sealing the title when they host the Parisians on Sunday evening.
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Pepe not at Mbappe’s level yet, according to Lille manager
Pepe’s form in Ligue 1 this season has led many pundits to compare him to PSG goal machine Kylian Mbappe.
However, Lille boss Christophe Galtier doesn’t think his forward is quite at Mbappe’s level yet, citing a lack of Champions League experience on Pepe’s part.
“Not yet – these players are used to playing in the Champions League and are performing well,” he responded when asked if Pepe is a rival to Mbappe.
“If, next year, Nicolas is in a Champions League team, he plays and he has these same stats, he will be put in this category.”