Bengaluru, December 19: Arsenal are leading the chase for £45m-rated Lille winger Nicolas Pepe but are facing stiff competition from other top sides and apparently now have to act fast and pay a premium price to sign him in January.
Pepe has been a star performer in Ligue 1 this season, scoring 12 goals and registering six assists to guide Lille to second in the table behind PSG.
His ability to beat defenders, eye for a killer pass, turn of pace and, apparently based on his stellar goal return, has made him a hot cake recently and many top-tier sides with the likes of Bayern, Sevilla, Chelsea are said to be weighing up a bid to land him.
Lille owner Gerard Lopez has previously stated that Pepe will not leave in January.
Lopez is quoted as saying: "What if Barcelona gives me €100million to buy Pepe? He will not leave this winter. I want him to continue here, we want him to stay, he wants to stay."
But according to latest reports, the Ligue 1 side have softened their stance on the player and may be prepared to listen to bids in the region of €50 million for his services, though the club’s owner remains reluctant to lose him mid-way through the season.
Arsenal apparently were the front-runners in the chase and considered the player as a key signing of next Summer but with so much interest from all along they might now have to act quickly- maybe as soon as January to get him.
Arsenal mostly have been sceptical about spending a large chunk of money in January. Moreover, head of football Raul Sanllehi also has previously spoken of his contempt for the January transfer window but they may have to let go of their previous winter window inhibitions and act like the transfer of Aubameyang's last season in order to secure the services of the Lille hot prospect.
Additionally, given Lille are hoping to secure Champions League football themselves, while the Gunners could end up missing out on the Ivory Coast international, it could be a wise decision to splash the cash now. The attacker also can be a significant replacement of Welbeck who has been declared out of the season.
The 23-year-old just like the English forward is comfortable playing in the wing as well as upfront and if the Gunners are to maintain our push for a top-four finish and Europa league adding him would certainly be a great move.