Arsenal Increase Interest in Lille Winger Nicolas Pepe But Face Competition From European Giants

Arsenal and Bayern Munich have ‘intensified’ their interest in LOSC Lille star Nicolas Pépé ahead of the January transfer window, according to reports.

The 23-year-old has been in fine form this season and has already been directly involved in 12 goals in Ligue 1, helping his side climb up to second place in the table behind only Paris Saint-Germain.


Pépé’s form has unsurprisingly caught the eye of some of the biggest clubs across Europe. As things stand, both Arsenal and Bayern Munich are leading the race for his signature, according to Mundo Deportivo (via Sport Witness), who also talk of Barcelona’s interest in the winger.

The Ivory Coast international, who alongside Jonathan Bamba is the star of Lille’s current side, is expected to cost suitors close to €30m, although Les Dogues could up their valuation and let a bidding war ensue for the forward.

It was expected that Pépé would be the subject of a number of high-profile bids during the January transfer window. However, he recently told Telefoot that he will not be leaving the Stade Pierre-Mauroy before the end of this season.

The France-born winger first made a name for himself in Ligue 1 during a two-year spell with SCO Angers. Pépé would go on to make 47 appearances for the club, scoring three goals and claiming two assists.


Following a £9m move to Lille, Pépé has already matched the same number of appearances as he did with his former side Angers. However, the forward’s return in front of goal has changed drastically, scoring 20 times and registering 11 assists in just over a year.


Bayern Munich Considering Move for Serie A Star as Long-Term Replacement for Robert Lewandowski

German giants Bayern Munich have been linked with a January move for Genoa striker Krzysztof Piatek.

CalcioMercato report that the Polish forward is being eyed as the long-term replacement for his countryman Robert Lewandowski, with club president Uli Hoeness said to be a huge admirer of the Genoa star. 

Piatek has scored 13 goals in just nine outings for the Serie A side this season in all competitions, and was on target for his country on Thursday as they lost 3-2 to reigning European champions Portugal.

CalcioMercato report that Bayern are facing serious competition for Piatek’s signature in the form of Barcelona and Chelsea, but Borussia Dortmund are said to be the closest to signing him.

The player signed a four-year deal with Genoa following his move from Polish side Cracovia in the summer, and has since had to play down the comparisons to Lewandowski while dismissing the links abroad.

“That start of the season has been good, but I’m not thinking about it [the speculation],” he told Sky Sport Italia last month.

“I can’t be compared to Lewandowski – he plays for Bayern Munich, myself at Genoa. I don’t think the links with Barcelona are true, even though I’ve heard about it. If I have any secrets, it’s simply that I try to improve, giving my best in training. With the coach Ballardini, we’ve agreed what my position on the field is. I know exactly what I have to do.”

While Genoa will hardly be excited to part ways with their new-found star, the report from Italy suggests that they would be willing to accept something in the region of €30-35m for him if it does come to that.


6 Shock Signings by Big Clubs as Man Utd Weigh Up Bizarre Andreas Granqvist Transfer

Helsingborg defender and Swedish World Cup hero Andreas Granqvist claimed earlier this month during an interview in his homeland that Manchester United are interested in signing him and that both he and his current club would accept if there is a formal offer submitted in January.

The veteran centre-back, who briefly played in the Premier League for Wigan Athletic for just 13 months over a decade ago, led Sweden to the quarter finals of the World Cup in summer and it isn’t unfeasible that his no nonsense defending and vast experience would be of appeal.

33-year-old Granqvist had been playing with Krasnodar in Russia until the World Cup, at which point he returned home to join Helsingborg in the second tier of Swedish football.

Notwithstanding any vague logic, jumping from the Superettan to Old Trafford would be a massive shock. Yet should United bizarrely go ahead with the alleged interest, they would be far from the first big club to make a such a surprise signing straight from ‘left-field’.

Here’s a look back at six examples that have actually happened…  

6. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (PSG)

Scoring just five Premier League goals in a single season with Stoke that ended relegation was all that it took for Paris Saint-Germain to snap up Cameroon international Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting on a free transfer during the summer.

Instead of Peter Crouch, Saido Berahino and Tom Ince, the 29-year-old now counts Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani among his attacking colleagues.  

5. Dale Jennings (Bayern Munich)

Dale Jennings might have been forgiven for thinking that his chance to make it at the top level was gone when he was released by Liverpool at the age of 16 and joined Tranmere. However, rather bizarrely, Bayern Munich swooped in and took him to Germany three years later.

Jennings spent two years in Bavaria, playing for Bayern’s second string, and returned to England in 2013 to join Barnsley. He later dropped out of professional football in 2016 and has since returned to play at non-league level after resurrecting his career.

4. Michael Hector (Chelsea)

Michael Hector is still contracted to Chelsea three years after surprisingly joining the club and it remains something of a mystery as to why he was signed in the first place.

Prior to 2015, Hector had enjoyed a very modest career and at the age of 23 a solitary full season in the Championship with Reading was his best achievement. 

Now 26, the Jamaica international is still yet to play a game for Chelsea, having spent every season out on loan.  

3. Park Chu-young (Arsenal)

Arsenal’s capture of striker Park Chu-young never made sense from the off. The Gunners snatched the South Korean national hero from under the nose of Lille as part of a spree of desperate late deals in the summer of 2011 and proceeded to hand him the number nine shirt.

That is seemingly where the faith ended, however, as the Gunners realised their odd mistake. Park played just six first team games and was later loaned to Celta Vigo and Watford.  

2. Bebe (Manchester United)

Just one year after playing in the 2009 European Street Football Festival, Portuguese winger Bebe found himself joining Manchester United for the significant sum of £8m.

20-year-old Bebe had spent his teenage years raised in a shelter in Lisbon after being abandoned by his parents and being placed under the care of the church. He signed for Vitoria de Guimaraes in 2010 and just five weeks later found himself at Old Trafford, after being recommended to Sir Alex Ferguson by Carlos Queiroz.

Bebe, real name Tiago Manuel Dias Correia, made a total of seven appearances for United in his first campaign and was loaned out for the remaining years of his contract. 

1. Julien Faubert (Real Madrid)

French winger Julien Faubert went from struggling to make an impact with West Ham in the Premier League to joining Real Madrid in January 2009 after completing a shock loan move. Faubert’s career in the Spanish capital was predictably bad, though.

He once apparently skipped training when he mistakenly thought he had a day off and even fell asleep on the bench during a game. He made only two appearances and Real opted against exercising their option to make the move permanent.


Arsenal Face Yet More Competition for Lille’s Nicolas Pepe as Bayern Munich Join Race

?Arsenal face even more stiff competition to land reported target Nicolas Pepe, with Bayern Munich the latest big European club now believed to be showing interest in the Lille winger ahead of a potential January swoop.

The Gunners are rumoured to have been keeping an eye on Pepe for some time, with reports last month adding Manchester United and Barcelona into the mix. Now, ?Bild have reported that the Bundesliga champions are also vying for the starlet’s signature.


Formerly of Angers, French-born Pepe joined Lille last summer and scored 13 Ligue 1 goals in a team that was almost relegated, managing a further five assists.

He’s taken another huge leap forward so far this season and already managed six goals and six assists in nine Ligue 1 games from his primary position wide on the right – that includes an important hat-trick in a 3-2 win over Amiens last month.

His combined tally of 12 goals and assists has helped propel Lille to second in the Ligue 1 standings, while the player himself has directly contributed to more goals than Neymar (11), Kylian Mbappe (11), Florian Thauvin (10) and Dimitri Payet (9).

The gossip last month was that Borussia Dortmund, Schalke and Sevilla have already made offers for the 23-year-old. The same is said of Real Sociedad and Lyon, who are claimed to have submitted bids of €20m and €30m respectively to prise Pepe away from Lille.

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Having lost both of their opening Premier League games, Arsenal are in a fine of form under new boss Unai Emery and have won six consecutive league games to move within two points of the top of the table. It may be too early, but some have even put them in title contention.


REVEALED: 11 European Giants With the Highest Annual Sponsorship Revenues

Sponsorship is a huge money spinner in modern football and is a main reason why clubs can afford to pay top transfer fees and high wages.

A detailed 2018 report on sponsorship revenue by CSM Sport & Entertainment has looked into how much various clubs in Europe’s top five leagues (Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1) are earning from all their deals.

Here’s a look at the 11 biggest earning clubs through sponsorship…

11. Borussia Dortmund – €80m

71 Sponsorship Deals

Borussia Dortmund are on the fringes when it comes to the elite of European football. The popular German club are certainly prolific with the sponsorship deals, with as many as 71 different partners bringing in €80m to fund their Bundesliga challenge.

10. Juventus – €101m

39 Sponsorship Deals

With AC Milan and Inter falling on hard times, Juventus are out on their own when it comes to leading the way with sponsorship in Italy. Their 39 deals with various partners pay them €101m, which is the ninth highest sponsorship income in Europe.

9. Paris Saint-Germain – €112m

24 Sponsorship Deals

Paris Saint-Germain need to find some way to bring in revenue and balance the books after the €400m combined capture of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe and sponsorship is at least one way to do that. They alone account for almost one third of the collective Ligue 1 figure.

8. Liverpool – €117m

17 Sponsorship Deals

In terms of volume of deals, Liverpool fall way behind many of their English and European rivals but are still one of the richest when it comes to bringing in the cash. Some ardent fans may view a relative lack of partners compared to the rest as the Reds not ‘selling out’.

7. Arsenal – €124m

27 Sponsorship Deals

Arsenal have taken the plunge with a sleeve sponsor this season for the first time, displaying ‘Visit Rwanda’ on their jerseys after striking a deal to promote tourism in the African nation. The Gunners also remains one of the most famous partners of Emirates.

6. Manchester City – €149m

38 Sponsorship Deals

Manchester City are slowly establishing themselves as one of the biggest commercial players in world football after being weened off Sheikh Mansour’s chequebook. The Premier League champions rake in a significant amount of income from Etihad Airways.

5. Chelsea – €154m

18 Sponsorship Deals

Chelsea have been a force in European football ever since Roman Abramovich injected his fortune into the club in 2003. But the benefit of their success has seen them become an attractive vehicle for sponsors, meaning that the revenue will keep on coming.

4. Real Madrid – €178m

19 Sponsorship Deals

It appears to be a case of quality over quantity for Real Madrid, with their 19 sponsorship deals bringing in €178m. It will become apparent that the teams on this list with greater sponsorship revenue have significantly more deals on the go than the reigning European champions.

3. Bayern Munich – €180m

29 Sponsorship Deals

Bayern Munich are the dominant force on and off the field in German football and remain one of the most popular teams in the world, accounting for their high place on this list. Qatar Airways is a notable new addition to the club’s sponsorship portfolio in 2018.

2. Barcelona – €261m

43 Sponsorship Deals

Barcelona are one of only two clubs whose annual sponsorship revenue exceeds €200m, no small feat when considering that puts them way ahead of fierce domestic rivals Real Madrid. Despite their newly found commercialism, the UNICEF logo still appears on their kits.

1. Manchester United – €269m

68 Sponsorship Deals

Manchester United may have struggled on the pitch since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, yet their already strong commercial power has grown significantly during that time thanks to the work of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, a man gifted in business, if not football.