Lille believe that Liverpool will only make a bid for winger Nicolas Pepe if they sell one of their front-three this summer, according to journalist Duncan Castles.
The Sunday Times correspondent revealed that the Reds have held a long-standing interest in the Ivorian and have also held talks with the players’ agent this summer.
But, the feeling from the French club is that an offer will not come in for the 24-year-old unless they sell one of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, or Mohamed Salah.
Castles revealed the news on the Transfer Window podcast, saying, “The feeling at Lille is that the deal will only happen if Liverpool sell one of their strikers. At Lille, they believe that the possibility is that Mo Salah will move down the line and Nicolas Pepe has been identified as a replacement there.”
“There is a long-standing interest in Nicolas Pepe at Lille. They have talked to the player’s agent about a move.”
Pepe played a major part in helping Lille qualify for the Champions League for the first time in their history, scoring 23 and assisting a further 12 goals in 41 appearances.
Lille are most likely spot on with their evaluation of the situation surrounding their marquee player. Liverpool could strengthen certain areas this summer, but one of their strongest positions is their final third. Between Salah, Mane, and Firmino, the trio managed 56 goals last season in the Premier League, a tally that saw the three outscore 13 Premier League clubs – that isn’t a stat that would suggest they need reinforcements. Liverpool are the last club that needs to strengthen their starting attacking line-up, with Jurgen Klopp surely delighted with the effect they have had in recent years. The German himself has already admitted that he doesn’t expect to make many moves in the remainder of the transfer window, so a move for Pepe is surely only expected should the Merseyside club lose one of their prolific attackers. There is no doubting that the Ivorian international would be a great signing, but the fact is, there is no need to spend such a big amount of money on a player that isn’t guaranteed consistent minutes at Anfield next season.