2019-04-21 by W.M.
Nicolas Pepe’s Agent Says Transfer Talks Are Ongoing Amid Bayern, EPL Rumours
Xavier Laine/Getty Images
Nicolas Pepe’s agent has confirmed transfer talks are underway with interested clubs, amid rumours linking the Lille star with Bayern Munich and several Premier League sides.
Speaking to RTL (h/t Mirror‘s Alex Smith), agent Samir Khiat said there are no favourites for his signature, although he did name Bayern in the process: “We are in discussions with clubs. No decision has been taken. Today, there are no favourites, be it Bayern Munich or another club. Nicolas will not go just anywhere. We have not decided on which league.”
Per the report, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal have all been linked with the Ivory Coast international. The Gunners have reportedly scouted Pepe for over a year, but his £75 million price tag would be a major obstacle for the side from north London.
Michel Spingler/Associated Press
Bayern have been linked to the 23-year-old more than any other club, perhaps explaining why the agent named the Bundesliga giants. They have a clear need for wing upgrades, as longtime stars Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery are 35 and 36 years old, respectively.
Robben announced he’s leaving the club in December, per Omnisport (h/t sportswriter Ronan Murphy), and Ribery could follow suit:
Ronan Murphy @swearimnotpaul
Uli Hoeness also says that this could be Franck Ribery’s last season at Bayern Munich too: ‘Ribery and Robben are probably in their last year at FC Bayern.’ #FCBayern
Pepe is expected to be one of the hottest commodities on the transfer market this summer, and Lille president Gerard Lopez has already admitted he will surely leave the club, per Telefoot (h/t Goal):
“This summer, I think we will sell four to five players, no more. All clubs are forced to balance their accounts except perhaps one. I would say yes, it is sure he 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.”
Formerly of Angers, the speedster made the smart decision to move to Lille in 2017, rather than jump straight to the Premier League or any top club on the continent. Les Dogues have a tremendous reputation for nurturing talent―Eden Hazard and Idrissa Gueye are but two examples―and they’ve worked their magic yet again with Pepe.
It’s no wonder he’s a wanted man with outstanding statistics like these:
B/R Football @brfootball
No wonder Nicolas Pepe is being linked with some of Europe’s giants 🔥 https://t.co/MNu4Xz2cSW
The winger is blessed with a tremendous blend of raw athleticism and football intelligence. He uses his great vision and timing to run in behind defences, and has good finishing ability in front of goal.
He was the driving force behind Lille’s 5-1 demolition of Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain, as you can see in these highlights and WhoScored’s stats:
Nicolas Pepe: Man of the Match vs PSG @losclive
Goals – 1
Assists – 2
Shots – 3
Key Passes – 3
Dribbles – 3
Times Fouled – 3
Rating – 9.18
Full player ratings — https://t.co/kXEChxPWmj https://t.co/U5RVxc328t
If the PSG match served as some kind of audition ahead of the summer transfer window, he passed the test with flying colours.
Bayern seems the most likely destination due to their need at the wing position and willingness to dip into the French market. Former Lyon star Corentin Tolisso was their most expensive ever signing until they splashed the cash on Lucas Hernandez, who will move to Bavaria together with Benjamin Pavard in the summer.
They’ve already spent big on Hernandez, however, and Pepe won’t come cheap. At €80 million (roughly £69 million) the transfer of the former nearly doubled Bayern’s transfer record, and even more spending is not in line with the club’s usual policy.