Newcastle United continue to be linked with a move for young Angers striker Nicolas Pepe, but according to reports the Magpies face competition from European giants such as Lyon, Roma and Juventus.
L’Equipe and Le 10 Sport have both reported Newcastle’s alleged interest in Pepe in recent weeks. Lyon have already tabled a bit between the region of €5m to €6m for the Ivorian, with a bid from the Magpies expected in the coming days.
It is believed manager Rafael Benitez is keen to strengthen his attacking options in January. United are said to be particularly interested in wingers given that Yoan Gouffran and Matt Ritchie will be their only natural options throughout next month with Christian Atsu in Gabon for the African Cup of Nations and Rolando Aarons likely to miss the majority of the season through injury.
Pepe was born in Mantes-la-Jolie, a small town just north of Paris. He started his career at Poitiers FC before moving to his current club Angers in 2013 when he was 18-years-old.
The Ivory Coast international worked his way through the ranks at Angers and had a successful spell on loan at Orleans, helping them gain promotion to Ligue 2 and scoring seven goals in 29 games. Pepe was also named as one of the third division's best players in the 2015-16 season.
The 21-year-old is now a regular squad player at Angers and has managed two goals and an assist in 18 Ligue 1 appearances.
Despite his 18 appearances, Pepe has only completed 90 minutes once this campaign and has mostly featured as a right winger. He recently signed a new contract with the Ligue 1 side which could keep him at the club until 2019.
Pepe has been included in Ivory Coast’s provisional squad for next month’s African Cup of Nations tournament following his first cap last month and is expected to miss out given their wealth of attacking options.
The young Ivorian has a reputation of being a player with ‘formidable speed’ who likes to run at defences. His goalscoring record isn’t too impressive but at 21-year-old, he may be worth taking a chance on if Newcastle can meet Angers’ asking price for a player they hold in high regard.