Nicolas Pepe is one of the most wanted players in Europe after a brilliant season with Lille which saw him rack up 22 goals and 11 assists to help them finish second in Ligue 1, behind the French giants PSG.
Although Lille’s chairman does seem resigned to losing the 24-year old, his contract isn’t up until 2022 so they are in no hurry to sell even though there are some big European clubs circling.
Arguably, one of the most likely destinations would be Bayern Munich. With Robben and Ribery now gone after a hugely successful time, Bayern are looking for replacements and will not be shy about spending what’s required to get their targets when necessary. Whilst Ousmane Dembele and Leroy Sane seem to be the Bavarians first-choice, Pepe would be a more than capable ‘budget’ option. In addition, Pepe would almost be guaranteed playing time at the German club, which would not necessarily be the case with the other clubs that are interested.
Another potential destination is Inter Milan. If is to leave, as reports are suggesting, the may look to target Pepe to replace the goals that that is currently providing. The young Argentinean seems destined for his own big money move (which we discussed here: http://thetransferlist.co.uk/index.php/home/updates/mauro-icardi-saga-summer) and whilst Lukaku and Edin Dzeko seem high on Antonio Conte’s wish list, Nicolas Pepe could provide an alternative attacking option.
Liverpool and PSG also reportedly in the mix for his signature for similar reasons as both clubs will look to improve their squad depth after impressive seasons. With the ever-increasing rumours of Neymar moving on, PSG are looking for alternatives and Pepe would have the added advantage of being familiar with the league, thus needing no adjustment period. European champions Liverpool are also reportedly in the hunt for Pepe’s signature as a rotation option to their dominant attacking trio, although with already filling this slot, the Ivorian’s game time would likely be restricted at best.
Current speculation places a valuation of around £60m on the winger, significantly below our valuation which of just £7.03m. However, as always, our valuations do not consider a player’s form, ability or marketability. His calculation valuation is low primarily because Pepe is currently playing in Ligue 1, a slightly less competitive European league, as well as having just 11 international caps for the Ivory Coast.
Whilst any transfer for the Ivorian would represent a huge financial risk, Pepe has become a proven performer in Ligue 1 over his two seasons with Lille. The only question that must be answered is whether the player could carry this form into a more competitive European league such as the Bundesliga, Serie A or Premier League. Despite this, a £60m price tag seems steep for a player with little experience at the top level (Pepe has never played in the Champions League or Europa League) and so it would be recommended other targets are considered first.