Christophe Galtier Says Nicolas Pepe Is 'Intransferable' Amid Barcelona Rumours

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistSeptember 24, 2018

Lille's Ivorian forward Nicolas Pepe celebrates after scoring a goal during the French L1 football match between Amiens and Lille at the Licorne stadium in Amiens, northern France, on August 26, 2018. (Photo by FRANCOIS LO PRESTI / AFP)        (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS LO PRESTI/AFP/Getty Images)
FRANCOIS LO PRESTI/Getty Images

Lille manager Christophe Galtier has called reported Barcelona and Manchester United target Nicolas Pepe "intransferable."

The winger has enjoyed a tremendous start to the Ligue 1 season, prompting links with some of the biggest clubs in European football.

When asked about the 23-year-old on Monday, Galtier admitted there are some big clubs interested in the Ivory Coast international but said he won't be going anywhere for a while yet, per Harry Sherlock of Goal.

"Some clubs have contacted us directly after the transfer window to know what the state of play is," he said. "... Nicolas has become an intransferable player. I know that the president wants to keep him all season, and Nicolas also wants to stay for the full season."

Pepe appears to be on course for another memorable season. In 2016-17 he excelled in a Lille side that battled to avoid relegation from Ligue 1, netting 13 goals and grabbing four assists. From six matches this campaign, he already has four goals and three assists.

Per Scouted Football, at the moment there isn't a player in European football who can match his productivity:

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After fighting for top-flight status for long spells last season, Lille appear set for a much more enjoyable term this time around. They are in second place in Ligue 1 with four wins, one draw and one defeat; only Paris Saint-Germain, who have a perfect record to this point, are above Galtier's team.

Pepe has become a talisman for the side on the right flank, with a goal return only bettered by Marseille winger Florian Thauvin at this stage. 

Despite the strong start to the season, Lille will find it tough to keep hold of Pepe beyond this campaign if he keeps performing to these levels.

On the ball, Pepe can be devastating, as he blends searing speed with quick feet and invention. Often wingers of this ilk can be rushed and erratic in their final ball, but he has shown a lot of care in his choices in dangerous areas this season and in the previous one.

French football journalist Andrew Gibney thinks Pepe should have until the end of the campaign with Lille at least:

Barcelona would certainly represent a major step up, and a move to the Camp Nou would surely limit Pepe's minutes. In the last three transfer windows, Barca have signed wide players Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho and Malcom.

Manchester United do lack a winger comfortable playing from the right, with Jesse Lingard deployed there recently under Jose Mourinho. Pepe would add something different, although he may not be ready to start for a club of the Red Devils' magnitude quite yet.

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