Report: Barcelona keeping tabs on Nicolas Pepe

Nicolas Pepe
FARO, PORTUGAL - JULY 20: LOSC Lille forward Nicolas Pepe from Ivory Coast during the match between FC Porto v LOSC Lille for Algarve Football Cup 2018 at Estadio do Algarve on July 20, 2018 in Faro, Portugal. (Photo by Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images)

Barcelona reportedly made use of their Champions League trip to Lyon by going over to watch Nicolas Pepe in action for Lille OSC.

The 23-year-old winger has managed an impressive tally of 31 goals and 16 assists in 66 appearances across all competitions for Lille since arriving in the summer of 2017 from Angers.

Pepe has proven to be an invaluable member of Les Dogues and appears to be getting even better as the years go by at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy.

Currently, Pepe is just a goal behind Paris Saint-Germain’s Edinson Cavani in third-place of the Ligue 1 scoring charts with an impressive 16 goals in 25 games, which also puts him ahead of former Barcelona star Neymar.

Now France Football reports that the Ivorian winger is of interest to the Blaugrana, who watched Pepe in action for Lille in their goalless draw against Montpellier HSC on Sunday and were allegedly left impressed with what they saw.

The young star is highly-rated in France, with Lille manager Christophe Galtier declaring earlier this month that he’s only “just behind”  PSG star duo Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in Ligue 1.

And Barcelona are reportedly resigned to the fact they will have to begin a search to replace the struggling Luis Suarez at some point in the near future.

The former Liverpool striker, who turned 32 last month, has begun to show possible signs that his best days may be behind him on the back of just two goals in his last 10 outings.

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Suarez was notably frustrated in Tuesday night’s 0-0 first-leg draw at Lyon in Barcelona’s last-16 tie and has now gone 17 Champions League matches without finding the net.

Meanwhile, another Lille player understood to have captured Barcelona’s interest is 19-year-old forward Rafael Leao, who has been dubbed as the “Portuguese Mbappe”.

This comes on the back of a breakout campaign in France, which has seen Leao score seven goals in 15 Ligue 1 games after completing a transfer from Sporting Lisbon last summer.

Although it’s understood that Barcelona would prefer for the teenager to remain at Lille for another season.

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