Lille OSC manager Christophe Galtier announced that Nicolas Pepe “will leave” in the summer amid reported interest from Barcelona.
After completing a transfer from the lowly Angers to Lille in 2017, Pepe has established himself as one of the big names in Ligue 1 alongside the likes of Paris Saint-Germain stars Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
The 23-year-old winger’s profile has only grown over the past nine months after registering 22 goals and 11 assists in 37 league outings. This has played a big role in Lille’s surge up from 17th last season to a second-place finish this term.
In fact, only Mbappe has outscored Pepe in the Ligue 1 scoring charts with an incredible 32 goals in just 28 games.
Therefore, interest in the Ivory Coast international is strong with Barcelona allegedly keen admirers. Premier League giants Arsenal and Manchester United have also been linked to the young star.
And now Galtier has conceded Lille will be bidding goodbye to Pepe in the summer.
“Nicolas Pepe will leave. Life’s like that, football’s like that today,” Galtier told Canal+.
“He is a player of the highest level who will have a big decision to make on the choice of his next club.
“There will be a battle between the great European teams.
“I hope that he will take a good amount of time to think about it, do his research.”
Pepe remains under contract at Lille until June 2022 and has a market value of €40m. This will make quite a nice profit for club president Gerard Lopez, who paid €10m for the Ivorian’s signature in 2017.
When asked about Pepe’s future, Lopez replied: “This summer, I think we will sell four to five players, no more.
“All clubs are forced to balance their accounts except perhaps one. I would yes say, it is sure he will leave.
“He enters a price range that can no longer be paid.
“There is a career choice to him make him for him, I think he will have the choice.”