Southampton must make summer target Nicolas Pepe their first January buy

According to a report by French media outlet France Football, Southampton saw a €14m (£12.5m) bid for Lille winger Nicolas Pepe rejected towards the end of the summer transfer window in England, and they must now make the in-demand 23-year-old their top January target should he fail to move elsewhere.

What’s the word, then?

Well, France Football say there is plenty of interest in the Ivory Coast international from top clubs across Europe including Sevilla and AS Roma, who are both still able to buy new players as the respective transfer windows in their countries are still open.

That is, of course, not the case for the Premier League, with the deadline on August 9 – prior to the start of the new top flight campaign.

France Football report that Saints failed with a bid to bring Pepe to St Mary’s, and seeing as he primarily plays out wide it appears unlikely that new boy Danny Ings would have been an alternative.

Why should Saints make Pepe their top January target?

If the attacker fails to move elsewhere this month then Mark Hughes, who has provided a huge injury boost ahead of the trip to Everton on Saturday, must move to bring the wide man to St Mary’s in the New Year as he has shown the qualities he has since signing for Lille in 2017.

In his debut season for them last term, he scored 13 goals and provided a further five assists in 36 Ligue 1 appearances for a side that finished just one point above the bottom three in the French top flight.

That is no mean feat, and the 23-year-old would add some much-needed pace and trickery – which perhaps only Nathan Redmond and the young Josh Sims can offer right now – and his presence on the right would ensure opposition defenders have more to think about and should give Redmond more time and space to finally fulfill his potential.