Lille winger Nicolas Pepe has confirmed that he plans to stay with LOSC Lille until the end of the season, despite strong links to an Arsenal transfer.
Speaking in an interview with La Voix du Nord (via GFFN) Pepe confirmed that his plan is to stick around in Ligue 1 for the rest of the season and possibly even beyond.
“For me, I will certainly (be staying for the rest of the season),” Pepe said. “As the president said, I have decided to finish this season at Lille, at the end of that, nothing is done. I am under contract until 2022. I want to finish this season with Lille and, why not, go after a European place, that would be wonderful.”
Lille are currently in second place in Ligue 1, though the teams behind them do have a game or two in hand each to catch up. Nonetheless, it’s certainly possible they’ll be up there fighting for a Champions League spot at the end of the season, and Pepe clearly wants to be part of that journey.
Arsenal were previously described as ‘leading the chase’ for the winger, with Lille reportedly willing to negotiate for €50m or more. Then this became €80m in an interview with sporting director Luis Campos, and now the player has been seemingly taken off the table altogether.
Even if Pepe did become available again for €80m, there are questions over whether the Ivory Coast international is even worth that much.
Regular followers of Ligue 1 suggest that despite the winger’s impressive goal output this campaign, with 12 goals and seven assists, his overall game could use some work. Those 12 goals also don’t look quite so impressive when you find out five of them were penalties.
That’s not to say Pepe hasn’t had some real moments of quality this season, but right now it seems much more likely than not he stays where he is until the summer.