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Arsenal will have to break their transfer record to sign Nicolas Pepe after Lille slapped an €80million (£72m) price tag on the prolific winger. The Gunners have long been linked with a move for the Ivory Coast international, who has scored 12 goals and laid on five assists in Ligue 1 this season – only PSG star Kylian Mbappe has had a hand in more goals. Although a transfer fee of around £40m had been mooted, Lille chief Luis Campos insists it could take closer to twice that figure.
Speaking about Pepe to Telefoot on Sunday morning, Campos set his value for the 23-year-old: ‘€80million. But [any club] will also have to convince the player.’ French newspaper L’Equipe recently claimed that Lille were open to selling Pepe in the January window, with Arsenal in pole position to prise him away.
But Campos’ valuation suggests the club will do everything possible to retain a player whose stellar performances have guided Lille to second place in the Ligue 1 table. Unai Emery is believed to be a big fan of Pepe, having played against him when in charge of PSG, while he is in the market for attacking reinforcements following Danny Welbeck’s season-ending injury.
Another name potentially being considered is Boca Juniors winger Cristian Pavon, who could be considerably better value than Pepe. Arsenal would be able to land the Argentina international for under £40m and are believed to have been tracking his progress for the past 18 months. The Gunners are also looking at recruiting a new centre-back.