Liverpool have opened talks to sign one of the most wanted young stars in Europe at the moment in Nicolas Pepe, claims talkSPORT.
Lille president Gerard Lopez has recently said that the English outfit have opened talks with the agent of the player for a possible move this summer.
He also added that Lille have received a couple of offers already for the winger and that they value their star at around £70m.
Pepe has been intensively linked with a move to Anfield since the end of the last season, but it is unclear if they are willing to meet his asking price. So do the European champions really need him?
Pepe And His Rise:
Born and brought up in France, Pepe started his senior career as a teenager with Poitiers FC, a fifth division club in the country.
He spent four years at Angers, showing growth by the year and was finally snapped up by Ligue 1 side Lille in 2017, where he was the first choice for the entire campaign.
He scored 13 goals in his first season at Stade Pierre-Mauroy before registering 22 goals in the previous campaign. He made his international debut for Côte d’Ivoire in 2016 and has already had 11 appearances, including a couple of crucial games for his side in this year’s AFCON.
He is now 24, has enough experience to make an impact in England and is one of the prime transfer targets for Liverpool this summer.
Do They Need Him?
Pepe is a natural winger, who has been effective on the right flank for Lille. While finishing may not be his strength, Pepe is naturally a creative player, who is hard to mark in the final third.
He loves to cut inside from the right flank and is hard to stop when in full flow. He is an excellent dribbler, can create chances from out wide but is also adept at holding up the ball and waiting for his fellow attackers to join into the attack.
He draws fouls constantly, can be effective in possession based and counter-attacking style of play and is a player Klopp will love to groom.
Pepe has not really shown signs of having an exceptional work-rate that Klopp likes in his players but he has the right attitude for a top-class player and playing under the German manager will only make him a better operator.
Signing him is a no-brainer for Klopp as he not only provides depth and cover for his frontline but also allows the manager to play a 4-2-3-1 system, pushing Mohamed Salah into a striker’s role.
However, he will cost around £70m, making him a luxury signing for the Reds. So, if Liverpool decides that signing a winger is of utmost importance, then Pepe fits the bill perfectly.
But if FSG and Klopp identify other areas in the squad that need to be improved, then Pepe is a signing they can do without.
The likes of Harry Wilson and Rhian Brewster have earned rave reviews from the manager, who may be tempted to use them instead of spending big on the Lille man.
At just 24, Pepe does have a bright future ahead of him but at the moment, he is not an absolute necessity for Liverpool, unless they lose any of their front three which looks unlikely.