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Nice ‘interested in loan deal for Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe’

Nice ‘interested in loan deal for Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe’

Ligue 1 outfit Nice are reportedly interested in taking Arsenal winger Nicolas Pepe on loan this summer.

The 27-year-old is yet to reach the heights expected in North London following his club-record £72m move from Lille in 2019.

Pepe has fallen down the pecking order at the Emirates Stadium, with Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Emile Smith Rowe all preferred ahead of him by head coach Mikel Arteta.

The Ivory Coast international started only five of his 20 Premier League appearances last season and contributed to just one goal and two assists in the top flight.

Pepe, who still has two years remaining on his contract at the Emirates, was an unused substitute in both of Arsenal’s opening two Premier League victories over Crystal Palace and Leicester City.

Nicolas Pepe warms up for Arsenal in December 2021© Reuters

With Pepe’s career at risk of stalling at Arsenal, the winger is allegedly open to the prospect of seeking pastures new this summer.

The likes of Leeds United and Everton have been credited with an interest in Pepe, but Foot Mercato claims that Nice have set their sights on luring the winger back to France.

The report adds that Pepe is attracted by the prospect of returning to Ligue 1 with Les Aiglons, who are keen to take the winger on loan for the 2022-23 season.

Pepe’s agent is believed to be listening to potential offers for his client and an appointment with Nice has been scheduled to discuss a proposed transfer for the winger to the Allianz Riviera.

Prior to joining Arsenal, Pepe spent two successful years with Lille between 2017 and 2019, recording 37 goals and 18 assists in 79 games across all competitions.

Nicolas Pepe in action for Arsenal in August 2021© Reuters

The winger won the club’s Player of the Year award in his final season for Les Dogues, and was also named in the 2018-19 Ligue 1 Team of the Season after netting 22 goals and registering 11 assists in 38 French top-flight matches.

Nice have made six first-team signings so far this summer, including the arrivals of former Arsenal man Aaron Ramsey on a free transfer and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel from Leicester City.

However, head coach Lucien Favre is looking to bolster his attacking options in the final two weeks of the transfer window, with Pepe one player he has identified as a realistic target.

Free agent Edinson Cavani is also on their radar as well as Shakhtar Donetsk‘s Mikhailo Mudryk, Marseille‘s Bamba Dieng and Everton’s Moise Kean, who is currently on loan at Juventus.

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