Manchester United target Nicolas Pepe tipped to join UEFA Champions League club, says Lille manager

Manchester United will no doubt be looking to strengthen their position in World and European football this summer which will start a new era at the Old Trafford club. A new manager will be brought in to manage the club, which currently is suggested to be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, especially after ensuring the club made a U-turn, winning a string of matches and coming forward as a more attacking team since he took charge in December after the sacking of Jose Mourinho.

United’s executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward has previously suggested that alongside a new manager, the club will be seeking to appoint a director of football, which is also something that has been lacking at the club and could well be one of the reasons that they have never really stabilised since the days that the club was led by Sir Alex Ferguson. United really need to be brought into the modern age of football, making all the changes necessary to keep them competing as a football club, not just a business.

One of the positions that really need some fortification is on the wing. Currently, United have Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial, Alexis Sanchez, and to a point, Juan Mata who are experienced players that can play on the wing. The right-wing is a position that really needs some attention and has done for a number of years now. United have been linked to players, nothing forthcoming to solve the problems. Lingard has featured in this position under Solskjaer but is not the long-term solution for this position.

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One player who has been linked to the Old Trafford club is Nicolas Pepe of Lille. Of course, this does not mean that United are definitely looking to sign this player as most rumours are just that. However, it suggests that United have been seeking to strengthen the club in the positions they are lacking in, which means those in command at the club are aiming to do something about it, hopefully anyway.

Lille manager Christophe Galtier has spoken to L’Equipe about the possible departure of Pepe this summer, suggesting that he knows the player will leave the club, also suggesting that he should be leaving for a team in the UEFA Champions League, which of course, is not something United can guarantee just yet. Pepe has had an impressive start Lille’s Ligue One season, which has led to him being scouted by many clubs around Europe. Speaking to L’Equipe, which was reported by Bavarian Football Works, Galtier said:

“Nicolas Pépé is having a great season and will continue to progress. He has to go to a Champions League club. In my opinion, an intermediate step is not necessary [for him] to go as high as possible. I see him as good with a team that plays all in red and likes to put wingers on the side of their weaker feet. He reminds me of Bayern’s two wingers. Younger [Arjen] Robben had this ability to eliminate players, cut inside and be clever in front of goal. [Franck] Ribéry also had this ability.”

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This season, Pepe has played 26 times for Lille in the Ligue 1, amassing a total of 2,329 minutes of football, scoring 16 goals, assisting eight more. Looking at those figures, it means that Pepe has either scored or assisted a goal every 97 minutes, which suggests that he is a good prospect, despite the fact he is 23 years old. Pepe is a right-winger, which is what United need to recruit in the summer. Obviously, the club could blood youth into the team with Tahith Chong on the cusp of the first team.

Having Chong is great but if there is no experienced winger in the team, who plays on the right, is he going to learn from anyone in the squad? In my view, there always needs to be experienced in set positions in order for those up and coming players to find their feet. United do not have a fully experienced right-winger, other than the converted wingers that now play in fullback roles; Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young.

Pepe is very strong with through balls, which could see the likes of Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial and even the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Paul Pogba be fed to score or assist themselves. The 23-year-old also likes to take long shots, provides key passes for his teammates and dribbles well with the ball. Pepe does get fouled often, as most attacking players with pace do, however, he does not dive into tackles himself. If United are looking to strengthen this summer, Pepe could be a player of note for them.

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