Lille already looking for replacement as Arsenal close in on shock deal for Nicolas Pepe

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Arsenal have made Lille winger Nicolas Pepe a priority signing, with the Ligue 1 club already lining up a replacement, according to reports in France.

French outlet Mercato365 report that Pepe is ‘particularly popular’ with Arsenal, and the winger is ‘one of the recruitment priorities’ of the club. Lille seemingly want €50m for their star man, but they don’t want to sell until the summer.

Mercato365 say that Arsenal could well make the signing at that point, ‘especially’ if Unai Emery’s side qualify for the Champions League. Lille have already started lining up a replacement in Troyes’ Bryan Mbeumo, a 19-year-old who has five goals and three assists in Ligue 2 this season.

Competing with Arsenal are some of the top clubs, including FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich. However, Olympique Lyonnais have dropped out of the race, as they feel Pepe is now out of their price range.

The Ivory Coast international has a contract until 2022, and he’s scored nine, assisted six and won a couple of penalties in 16 appearances this season, so it’s no surprise his value is skyrocketing.

Arsenal’s recent matches have continued to prove that the squad could do with some reinforcements in the wide positions. We’ll see if they can convince Lille to sell in the summer or sooner.