Authoritative French publication L’equipe is reporting that Arsenal are now favourites to sign Emery’s prime target, Lille winger Nicolas Pepe, ahead of other European rivals.
Unai Emery has made no secret of his desire to bolster Arsenal’s striker/winger positions following a likely season-ending injury to Danny Welbeck, and Pepe, with 12 goals and 7 assists in a Ligue 1 that is barely half way, had been earmarked as his preferred solution.
The L’equipe report about Arsenal being in pole position for the Ivory Coast International’s signature was revealed earlier today by Bein Sports writer Matt Spiro in a tweet.
The report states that there is a lot of interest in Pepe and that Lille, who were earlier reluctant to sell the player mid-season, would now be willing to do business with any club who submits an opening bid of £45.
Arsenal leading chase for Nicolas Pepe but lots of competition emerging. L’Equipe this morning suggest Lille will negotiate in January if a club opens bidding at €50m. But owner has previously stated he won’t sell mid season
— Matt Spiro (@mattspiro) December 17, 2018
Whether Emery gets his man in January or in the summer, the move makes sense on all fronts for Arsenal, as Welbeck, regardless of his injury, was never likely to be offered a new Arsenal contract by Emery.
Also, Emery’s other options on the flank – Iwobi and Mhkitaryan – are not natural wingers. Neither is particular fast nor direct in their wing play.