Nicolas Pepe won’t leave Lille this winter, according to their president and vice president, despite the player himself calling Arsenal, Dortmund and Bayern ‘great clubs’.
The media have linked Pepe to Arsenal pretty heavily in recent weeks and months. The Gunners clearly haven’t completely sorted the wide positions at the club, and there aren’t many wingers out there performing better than the 23-year-old, who has eight goals, six assists and a couple of penalties won in just 14 matches this season.
One reporter recently asked Pepe about the rumours, and his preference between Dortmund, Bayern and Arsenal, to which the winger responded: “All are great clubs. I was not aware of these rumours, although it is good.”
However, Lille president Gerard Lopez says that even if the likes of Barcelona came in with ridiculous sums of money, he wouldn’t sell the player in the middle of the season.
“What if Barcelona gives me 100 million euros by Pépé? He will not leave this winter. I want him to continue here, we want him to stay, he wants to stay,” Lopez said (via Friday’s Mundo Deportivo).
Vice-president Marc Ingla had a similar response prepared when asked about the player on Canal+.
“We do not think about it before the summer,” he said. “In principle not (even for €50m or €60m), because we are in the logic of going at least until the end of the season.
“When we talk about it with him, we feel that he is in a mission with LOSC this season, and not thinking about transfers until the summer. It is true that he is a very sought-after player.”
In truth, it seems fairly unlikely that Arsenal will move for Pepe in the middle of the season anyway. Raul Sanllehi implied in a recent interview that the Gunners intend to do their big business in the summer windows, although the injury to Danny Welbeck could change things. We’ll have to wait and see.