Nicolas Pepe Discusses Arsenal Interest Amid Transfer Rumours

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistNovember 7, 2018

Lille's Ivorian forward Nicolas Pepe controls the ball during the French L1 football match Lille (LOSC) vs Olympique de Marseille (OM) on September 30 2018 at the ' Pierre Mauroy ' stadium in Villeneuve-d'Ascq northern France. (Photo by PHILIPPE HUGUEN / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Nicolas Pepe is flattered by rumours linking him with Arsenal, but also said he wouldn't have a preference between the north London giants or the Bundesliga's Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

Speaking to Telefoot (h/t James Whaling of the Daily Mirror), the Lille winger was asked about the clubs rumoured to be interested in signing him: "A preference between Dortmund, Bayern or Arsenal? They're all big clubs. I was not aware of these rumours, although it's nice. Will I leave Lille at the end of the season? We do not even know what I'll be doing tomorrow!"

Arsenal have been linked with £44 million-rated Pepe for a while, while Barcelona has also been linked, per Mundo Deportivo (h/t Naveen Ullal of Sport Witness).

Meanwhile, Bayern were named as part of the queue of suitors, along with Manchester United, by Bild (h/t Jack Rathborn of the Daily Mirror) last month.

Pepe has caught the eye of a host of clubs thanks to his performances this season.
Pepe has caught the eye of a host of clubs thanks to his performances this season.PHILIPPE DESMAZES/Getty Images

This many of Europe's top clubs linked with Pepe speaks to the burgeoning talent of the dynamic 23-year-old. He's one of the most exciting players in Ligue 1, having tallied nine goals and five assists already this season.

The Gunners have a need for a natural winger who could add genuine width and trickery to their forward line. Manager Unai Emery has been content to play striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out wide, but the position is hardly the best for the club's leading scorer this season (nine goals), who is better suited through the middle.

Emery has also moved central-leaning No. 10s such as Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi out wide. What Arsenal need is pace and trickery from the flanks to work in unison with full-backs Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal, who are playing higher up the pitch on Emery's watch.

Yet while beating the competition to Pepe would be something of a coup for the Gunners, his arrival could also potentially slow the progress of some of Emery's notable young talents:

James Benge @jamesbenge

Nicolas Pepe is one to keep an eye on. Though when you've got Reiss Nelson ripping it up in Germany do you need to sign another winger next summer? https://t.co/x7aAEIZKmu

Reiss Nelson's rapid development could save Arsenal millions in the transfer market, judging by the way the precocious 18-year-old is thriving on loan at Hoffenheim:

FootballTalentScout @FTalentScout

Reiss Nelson scores again! ✅6 games ⚽️5 goals 🅰️1 assist What a player! https://t.co/IcNA79ioCP

Scouted Football @ScoutedFtbl

Youngest-ever players to score five goals in the Bundesliga: 18y, 10m, 14d • 🇩🇪 Lukas Podolski 18y, 10m, 15d • 🇩🇪 Olaf Thon 18y, 10m, 25d • 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Reiss Nelson Making the most of an extraordinary opportunity. https://t.co/UL1pT44W7X

If Nelson keeps bossing the German top flight, he's surely going to merit a closer look in the Gunners' first team next season. It would mean Emery being able to spend money strengthening other areas of the Arsenal squad, notably a suspect defence.