Nicolas Pepe has emerged as one of the most in-demand wingers in Europe after enjoying a phenomenal season in Ligue 1 with Lille.
The Ivory Coast international moved to Lille in 2017 and his stock has rapidly soared ever since. A return of 14 goals and 5 assists from his maiden season underlined his potential but his reputation has skyrocketed during a phenomenal 2018/19 campaign.
However, the aforementioned clubs are not the only sides expressing an interest according to former journalist Ian McGarry.
McGarry, who now works as a football operations and communications consultant, delivered his verdict on a potential transfer for Pepe this summer while speaking on The Transfer Window podcast (26:27).
“Pepe is not the kind of player who is going under the radar in any way, he’s been starring for Lille for a while and just this season he has been watched for the club in person by Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton. So there’s a strong interest from the Premier League in the player.”
McGarry later went on to add: “I think United will probably lose out on this one and I think any late bids from Arsenal or Tottenham will probably fail.”
With interest for the 23-year-old’s signature expected to be rife this summer, McGarry’s verdict hardly comes as a surprise.
The electric winger is clearly a talent worth monitoring but Ligue 1 is one of those divisions which can offer skewed representations on the true extent of a player’s ability.
Pepe, however, seems to have too much quality to flop away from France and both of north London’s biggest clubs would be well within their rights to feel disappointed if they failed to lure him to the capital.
But the respective situations at both clubs suggest that a deal will be far from a priority. Unai Emery is expected to be handed a measly £40 million budget to work with, while Tottenham’s need to boost their homegrown quota hints that they would be unlikely to pay a premium for the services of Lille’s crown jewel.
It remains to be seen where Pepe will end up next season – if he even decides to leave the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, but McGarry’s admission suggests that fans of Spurs and Arsenal shouldn’t be holding their breath.