In a world of ever-increasing transfer fees, Arsenal have managed to navigate the transfer market without having to pay out the nose for a player compared to the Premier League’s big money clubs. However, that all might change as Lille, host club of Arsenal transfer target Nicolas Pepe, just released their asking price for the highly sought-after attacker and, hoo boy, it is not cheap.
Yes, you read that right. €80 million (£72 million). Have your eyes stopped watering yet?
While most people would balk at such a hefty price tag, the state of today’s bananapants transfer market has dictated that the price of talent isn’t going to stop decreasing any time soon. For a club like Arsenal, it was always going to be a matter of “when” not “if” they were going to have to start ponying up the types of transfer fees that teams like Manchester City and Manchester United have been tossing at top-flight talent at a regular clip. Despite breaking club transfer fee records with the signings of Alexandre Lacazette and then Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang last season, it appears that Arsenal will have to break their record once more if they wish to secure the signature of Pepe.
For a team like Lille, who are not particularly perennial title contenders, the chance to cash in on a talent like Nicolas Pepe might be too good to pass up. On the other hand, considering they finished 17th last season and are now second in the league behind Paris St. Germaine, the chance of staying in the top four and earning a Champions League berth might also incentivize holding on to the talented forward who has lit up the French league in the first half of the season.
On paper, the buzz behind the 23 year old Ivorian is very much warranted. Amassing 12 goals and 5 assists through 19 games this season, Pepe’s performances and goal-scoring form have been drawing the attention of a number of big clubs. With his pace and nose for goal, he would easily bolster the attack of any club, especially one who have suffered as much attrition as Arsenal have. Having lost attackers Danny Welbeck and Henrick Mkhitaryan to long-term injuries, the Gunners are now facing a very precarious depth chart at both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. The club will need to seriously consider meeting Lille’s asking price if they want to remain competitive against a very congested top six in the Premier League.